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Work From Home? We’ll Outsource Your Job to India, Says Executive

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: April 12, 2023
An executive for a HR firm told WSJ that when a staffer asked to work from home to move out of state, he outsourced her job to India instead.
A file photo of staffers at an outsourcing firm in India in 2008. An executive for a human resources company told The Wall Street Journal that “a lightbulb went off” in his head that he should outsource a team member’s job to India when she asked to work from home to move out of state. (Image: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

An executive bragged to The Wall Street Journal about how he came up with the idea to outsource a woman’s job to India after she asked to work from home in order to move out of state.

The April 11 article opened by recounting the tale of a woman who worked for a human resource-focused society located in Virginia, who argued to her boss that because her job could be done from anywhere, she should be permitted to work from home in order to move out of state to North Carolina.

“Then a lightbulb went off,” the Journal quoted the society’s chief executive as saying.

The author added, “Instead of having the employee work in another state, he outsourced her job to India, where his organization is saving around 40% in labor costs.”


The Wall Street Journal notes that the anecdote is just one instance inside of a larger developing trend. Authors wrote that “a human-resources company that helps clients hire abroad” told them that business increased by more than a factor of two in 2022.

It’s a lucrative possibility for some firms, the Journal noted, as it recounted a story told to the outlet by a Mexico City mobile app developer who landed a job with IBM. 

Although IBM is getting a relative steal of a deal for a skilled worker, paying the woman approximately $24,000 annually, the woman was paraphrased as noting the money is not only “about double what she could earn at a local company,” but that “benefits are better, too, and she doesn’t have to commute every workday, which took up around three hours a day at a prior job.”


An August 2022 article by The Washington Post described the “remote revolution” caused by adverse effects of COVID-19 government lockdown measures.

The piece questioned whether U.S. workers who previously had an office job were set to survive “amid a gradual transition from a world in which they compete with a few dozen locals for each new job to one in which they compete with a few million professionals worldwide.”

Reaching farther back, a July 2022 article by Vox observed that there is “a dangerous line between arguing for remote work and arguing yourself out of a job.”

Vox likewise warned employees that even if they aren’t replaced by cheap foreign labor, the trend will have consequences on their career prospects, “Since remote work makes employees less visible, they will have to find other ways to let higher-ups know they exist or risk being passed over for pay raises.”

Nick Bloom, an economist for Stanford University, gave a heavy prognosis for the U.S. job market in an August of 2022 Business Insider article when he prophesied that as early as 2025, 3 million jobs would be offloaded overseas.

Cat out of the bag

A large part of the issue is that following the habit-changing pandemic restrictions, workers no longer even want to enter the office.

A July 2022 survey by McKinsey & Company, which employed Ipsos to survey 25,000 Americans, found that “when people have the chance to work flexibly, 87 percent of them take it.” 

The survey also found that employers were more than happy to oblige. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they were given the opportunity to work from home one day a week, and 35 percent to work from home every day every week.

“What makes these numbers particularly notable is that respondents work in all kinds of jobs, in every part of the country and sector of the economy, including traditionally labeled ‘blue collar’ jobs that might be expected to demand on-site labor as well as ‘white collar’ professions,” McKinsey noted.

The firm called the development “a desirable job feature for millions.”

And it’s not just America. In September 2022, a Canadian government-sponsored survey by the Future Skills Center surveyed 6,600 workers to find that between December 2020 when COVID first began to make waves and April 2022 when vaccine passports and other social credit-style restrictions started to vanish from Canada, the percentage of respondents who “described themselves as working from their usual workplace outside the home” actually increased from 43 to 49 percent.

Strong demand for remote work

When businesses have asked workers to return to the office to resume normal business, pushback has been significant.

In June 2022, Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave employees an ultimatum in an internal memo that was leaked to the media to either return to the office or “pretend to work somewhere else,” he was lambasted in the media and on Twitter.

“Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers,” Musk added in the memo.

Canada’s state-funded outlet Canadian Broadcasting Corporation condemned Musk’s edict, using paraphrased comments from a man who started a “professional network” for startup software engineers to promote working from home because “it also removes obstacles that can make it difficult for some people to integrate into a physical workspace.”

The CBC also ran a subsection titled “Ontario Public Service more flexible than Musk” where it lauded a bureaucratic agency because “the Ontario public service, which includes about 60,000 public servants, so far requires staff who were working remotely to come into the office a minimum of three days a week.”

In March 2022, Musk gave an interview during a Financial Times-sponsored webcast event where when questioned on the subject of other EV car makers, the billionaire lamented that many Americans “are trying to avoid going to work at all,” a trend he said stands in sharp contrast to how “there are a lot of super talented, hard working people in China.” 

“They [Chinese workers] won’t just be burning midnight oil, they’ll be burning the 3:00 a.m. oil. They won’t even leave the factory type of thing,” Musk added.

Musk’s opposition to the work from home trend was shared by other business elites such as CEO of corporate social credit cornerstone Blackrock, Larry Fink, who told Fox News in a September 2022 interview that a well documented decrease in worker productivity was connected to remote work life.

“He linked the decrease in productivity to people still working remotely and suggested more people returning to the office would raise productivity and help offset inflation. At BlackRock, he said the company would ask employees to be ‘more mindful of their responsibilities in the office’ and that the company will be ‘taking a harder line’ regarding how to bring workers back into the office,” Fox stated.

Meanwhile, outlets such as Forbes offer a defense of remote working, saying that the alternative is “quiet quitting.”

“Forcing employees to come to the office under the threat of discipline leads to disengagement, fear, and distrust,” Forbes paraphrased a Director of Research at Gallup, a workplace consulting firm, as stating.

Forbes says that Gallup found “that if people are required to come to the office for more time than they prefer” then the consequences are that “employees experience significantly lower engagement, significantly lower well-being, significantly higher intent to leave [and] significantly higher levels of burnout.”

“By contrast, employees feel gratitude to companies that give them more flexibility and show trust,” Forbes argued on the same basis, quoting one worker interviewed as directly claiming, “If my company is going to come in and give me this flexibility, then I’m going to be the first to give them 100%.”