Out of Control Policy Blog

Staying at home

One company is pitching a new resolution to the offshore outsoucing controversy–outsource work to American telecommuters. Synergroup Systems calls the practice Homeland Onshore Model (HOM), (yet another term to add to outsourcing's always-growing glossary):

The company said it proposed to meet diametrically opposed objectives by outsourcing IT jobs to experienced American IT professionals who are willing to work from home at rates comparable to their overseas counterparts. Synergroup said it had completed three successful HOM pilots.

''Offshore providers are a popular solution for large corporations that need to cut costs, but overseas vendors are not without issues,'' said Mark Jennings, Vice President of Synergroup Systems.

''Workers in India and other popular offshore countries are difficult to oversee and typically require the creation of a US-based management position, complete with a hefty salary and benefits, to act as a liaison between the offshore workers and the corporation.

''Even then, companies are faced with language and cultural differences, time zone disconnects, and the hidden costs encountered when communication breakdowns cause projects to be compromised.'' The US-based IT professionals working through HOM, on the other hand, typically have 15 years' experience, with no language or cultural barriers and minimal time zone issues, said Jennings.

''What's more,'' said Jennings, ''the workers being outsourced by HOM have high morale as a result of being able to work from home, thanks to the same technology that allows their counterparts to work from across oceans.''

Telecommuting could do more than help allay outsourcing fears, it could offer a way to reduce congestion, a way that's much more efficient than banking on transit. Only about 3.3 percent of Americans telecommute, but it's not that far away from the 4.7 percent of Americans who use transit to get to work. Add to that the fact that during recent decades telecommuting has trended upward while transit–despite bigger and bigger subsidies–continues to lose market share. Also, telecommuting operates at another disadvantage. From zoning ordinances to tax policy, laws often make working at home tougher than it should be.

Whether or not these barriers to telecommuting are torn down will have a big impact on the success of using stay-at-home employees to ease offshoring fears and traffic congestion.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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