Remote work could be the reason you won’t have a job in 10 years

Workers who have relished being able to connect from anywhere would do well to consider the opposite situation: a worker elsewhere can probably do their job – for less.

It could cost them their jobs in the long run.

The fact that many jobs that can be done from home can also be done from anywhere in the world is often missing from the remote work discussion, says Anna Stanburyassistant professor of labor and organizational studies at the MIT Sloan School of Business who teaches a course on the future of work.

Companies have yet to outsource many jobs that require higher education internationally, says Stansbury Fortuneadding that many call center type jobs or remote jobs like software design or back-end engineering have already been offshored.

But if high-paying white-collar jobs can be done remotely, outsourcing them to cheaper areas could “clearly enough” offer huge savings. The potential for change “would be seismic if all these high-paying white-collar jobs were suddenly outsourced to less wealthy countries,” she adds.

“If people who code for Google and Facebook could live wherever they wanted in the United States and [work] for a year and a half without ever going to the office, it seems very, very likely that many companies are going to rethink this in the longer term and outsource these types of jobs that weren’t outsourced before,” Stansbury adds.

Be afraid, be very afraid

Stansbury isn’t the only person sounding the alarm about remote work. The experts said Outsourcing remote jobs is a real possibility, which could fill the void of a tight labor market, but also could not bode well for workers in a recession.

Stansbury cites research by Richard Baldwin, professor of economics at the University Institute of Geneva, Switzerland. “If you can do your work from home, be scared. Be very afraid,” Baldwin said in november. “Because someone in India or elsewhere is willing to do it for much less.”

This fear has been well documented for over a decade, according to an October 2021 Document from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) by Baldwin and his research partner Jonathan Dingel. In the article, titled “Telemigration and Development: On Offshoring Teleworkable Jobs,” they categorize jobs into one of four groups: highly offshorable, offshorable, hard to offshor, and non-offshorable.

Landing in the “highly relocatable” category requires “no” answers to just two questions: “Does a person in this profession need to be physically close to a specific workplace in the United States? and, if not, “Must they be physically close to a work unit?”

In the post-Covid workplace, tasks that can be done remotely will inevitably be done by telemigrants rather than domestic workers, Baldwin and Dingel predict.

Admittedly, such a shift is easier said than done “Social and cultural contexts across countries [make] a public relations specialist or sales engineer located in Hanoi is less likely to be a perfect substitute for one located in Seattle,” they add.

According to washington post analysis of Department of Labor data on remote work during the pandemic, “the more a job pays, the easier it is to do it remotely”, and the highest-paying industries – such as software and Internet publishing – have the most distant workers. The lowest-paying jobs, in sectors like retail and restaurants, are also the least likely to be remote.

In other words, knowledge workers who have greatly valued the ability to work from anywhere may need to prepare for the possibility that their luck may dry up.

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