How the Coronavirus Will Push Jobs Offshore
At some point in the future, hopefully sooner rather than later, we’ll be looking back on the COVID-19 pandemic from life’s rear view mirror and reminiscing about how life used to be before it all happened. We’ll be reminiscing because this health crisis will bring about changes – short-term, long-term, and permanent ones.
While most articles I’ve read have focused on societal changes to healthcare, pollution, and social norms like the death of the handshake, there’s one thing I haven’t seen come up – outsourcing.
Realizing Your Job Can be done Remotely
It really starts with teleworking. And I’m not talking about folks who had the ability to telework before the pandemic graced our shores.
The average CEO in the United States is over 55 years old. This mix of younger Baby Boomers & Older Generation X’s are part of an ‘old school’ of management where employees had to be in the office to do good work.
The large majority of corporations which have been utilizing telework before the COVID-19 pandemic were tech-oriented companies run usually by younger owners who viewed management through a different lens.
But once all those other companies who’ve resisted remote work for a decade realized they had no choice, they’ve come to realize that telework is a viable way to run a business. Productivity hasn’t changed, and in some cases it’s gotten better. Sounds like a win-win right? Well… it will be a win in the short term for both businesses and their employees.
In the Short-Term
Immediately after this pandemic clears up and we find ourselves in whatever the new “normal” will be, lots of folks will be able to continue to telework. It’ll be a much more common work option. Employers will be less hesitant to have a remote work force, realizing that you don’t have to be able to see someone to know they’re working.
Companies will save money by not having to maintain germ-ridden offices stacked with employees breathing in each other’s hot air all day long. They’ll realize that fewer people get sick resulting in a drop in sick days taken.
In the Long-Term
The shift to remote working will be a boon for businesses in the long-term. But it won’t be that way for employees. Once businesses realize that the work they used to think couldn’t be done remotely can be done remotely, it’s all over. Why? Because remote work doesn’t have to happen in the same country or state. If your work can be done from your home without going into the office, there’s no reason why it can’t be done from India or Bangladesh or any other country where a business could pay super low wages for the same work.
In the absence of any additional regulation or financial encouragement from government (ie. taxes on foreign labor), many jobs will leave the United States and never come back. They’ll be performed for low wages in other countries in order for businesses to maximize profits.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the safest jobs will be those which require a physical presence. Trades such as electricians & plumbers, and laborers who work in these trades will be able to find work while the office workers who support them will become more and more difficult to find locally.
And when it comes down to it, aren’t those trades the most important jobs anyway?