Remote workers in Australia? How about around the world

Remote workers resisting return-to-office mandates just got a stark warning. While it comes from an Indian investor eyeing opportunities in Australia, employees everywhere should pay attention.



Seems we have been discussing this for years, long before the plague. Any “knowledge worker” can be replaced by someone in a boiler room in Bangalore.

A couple decades ago, I foresaw a General Motors were the only USian employees are the honchos in the RenCen, in downtown Detroit. All the products completely designed and built in China. But the honchos still wave the flag and urge people to buy their “American” cars.

There are TV ads for a cell phone company that boast that their call center is actually in the US.

In “Marigold Hotel” Judi Dench finds purpose to her life, in teaching Indian call center workers how to interact with English people.

With USian education increasingly focused on athletic circuses, rather than education, and education itself increasingly rationed by ability to pay, other countries will have people capable of replacing USians at every level, above replacing your water heater.



In theory at least. In practice, it rarely works out this way. Over my career, I saw two typical cases:

  1. The new knowledge workers overseas are hired, usually quite a lot of them, but always through a contracting company. They need to be trained and directed, so the US-based staff remains to do so. The training and directing becomes a large task and more US-based staff has to be hired to accomplish those tasks.
  2. The new knowledge workers overseas are hired, and half or more of the US-based staff are immediately laid off. A year goes by, two years go by, and none of the projects have been completed. Sh*t eventually hits the whirring blades and an emergency is declared. US-based staff, including a whole host of high-priced consultants, are hired to address the emergency.

During the last 5 years of my medical career, I saw radiology get farmed out during the night hours. From roughly 2100 to 0600 any emergency X-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc., had a high probability of being read by a radiologist in New Zealand. In theory sounds good, someone who is more awake/alert is less apt to make a mistake. In reality, not so good, primarily because you couldn’t walk down the hall and talk face to face if you had a question about what they interpreted.


I am in total agreement. We humans are walking meat packages and not mere digital conjuries, and meat works best when meetings include a mammalian “feeling affinity”,

Long ago I did work on “distant meeting” connections for BofD’s of volunteer organizations on tight budgets, back when “fast modems” ran at 1200 baud rather than pukey 300. Low budget volunteer nationwide organizations could ill afford flying people around for meetings, and so I set up protocols to do it all digitally. I quickly discovered that if I had them all together physically for the training with lots of socializing they were much much more likely to succeed with the later digital meetings than otherwise, and that if I insisted that they get a “booster shot” of socializing every two or so years the supersavings of digitally meeting worked wonderfully well.

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Outside of specialized situations, like conferring about an x-ray, you just made my case for the “GM of the future” where everything, except a few big dogs, are in China, where they can confer to their heart’s content, while costing less than USians, so the handful of big dogs in Detroit can stuff more money in their pocket.