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  • New Frontiers in Offshoring

    Posted by David Foster on September 6th, 2020 (All posts by )

    Babysitting…of kids in Japan, via Zoom, by women in Rwanda.

    Relates to my posts telemigration and Covid-19, Remote Work, and Offshoring.



    7 Responses to “New Frontiers in Offshoring”

    1. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Who cleans up the mess when baby throws up? Interested parties want to know!

    2. David Foster Says:

      I think it’s for somewhat older children…either while their parents are out of the house, or just to get a half hour or so of time away from the kids. Would not be a good idea with an actual baby.

    3. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      It is not obvious that this would work any better with older kids — kids who stick their fingers in electrical sockets or spill boiling water or invite their girlfriends over while their parents are out for the evening.

      You are undoubtedly correct about earlier speculations that anything which can be done effectively as Work From Home will quickly become Work From Manila. Actual babysitting may be one of the last things left for former Western office workers to earn some cash.

      Free Trade! It is an unalloyed good!

    4. David Foster Says:

      This will probably be only a niche business…but if it were to succeed on a large scale, it would drive down the wages of Japanese babysitters and also have some positive effect on the wages of the Rwandan women.

      Also, of course, there is income potential for smart intermediaries: in this case, the Japanese woman who thought of the idea (while being on-site in Rwanda) and, more indirectly, the employees and shareholders of Zoom.

    5. MCS Says:

      I think baby sitting may be a bit of an exaggeration. What I saw in the article was more along the lines of entertainment/enrichment with a sort of cross-cultural aspect. I can’t imagine the parent or in person care giver was very far away, especially in Japan. It’s got to beat sitting the kid down with a Power Ranger video.

      The aspect I found most interesting was that there was enough cheap bandwidth in Rwanda for it to work. Also a Japanese restaurant in Kigali.

      I’m probably handicapped by never having a job that could possibly be done remotely. I really have trouble imagining what all those people stacked in skyscrapers in places like New York actually do to earn their paychecks. Businesses that produce tangible objects have already been flattened pretty far compared to 50 years ago. All of the clerks and secretaries that used to do timekeeping and payroll or correspondence are gone. Most of those functions are already farmed out.

      I worked in a plant that had 50-60 employees, there was exactly one manager and one bookkeeper, everyone else was either production or maintenance.

      Businesses that produce intangibles like software are different. Some organizations use the time difference between widely separated teams to do things like test code written during the day overnight. Usually wide east-west separation is a hindrance.

      There’s a tendency to classify anyone with a white collar job as a knowledge worker. Just like everywhere else, there are unskilled, semiskilled and skilled knowledge workers. The lower levels are fungible, the upper level not so much.

    6. David Foster Says:

      MCS…”I worked in a plant that had 50-60 employees, there was exactly one manager and one bookkeeper, everyone else was either production or maintenance.”

      No production schedulers, expeditors, etc? Or are you counting those under Production?

    7. MCS Says:

      The manager and bookkeeper/accountant took care of most of that. I left out the head QC. It was somewhat simplified in that we only produced two items and we were a branch of a corporation that had a slightly less abbreviated management apparatus elsewhere.