Want to save the US economy? Hire remote!

I was talking to my boss the other day on his drive into work. He was complaining about how bad the traffic was getting in the South Bay area over the past few weeks during rush hour, and corolating this to how much ecomonic growth is going on in the valley right now. People are hiring like crazy, and as a result it’s becoming harder and harder to find talented developers. I contrast this to the rest of the country, especially where I live in Ohio, where the slowdown in the ecomony and the impending recession are hot button issues and very noticeable.

It’s as huge of a disconnect as I’ve ever seen. But how could we “connect” them back up?

I ran across a great article the other day, which talked about a trend called “Rural Sourcing“. What this does is look into the vast rural sections of the country to build virtual teams and a remote workforce. This allows companies to cut costs by hiring Americans ( gasp! ) that live in areas of the country that have a lower cost of living, where even 20% paycut on the salary earned in those high cost markets will let you live quite comfortably. Plus, employers don’t have the added overhead cost of office space that is becoming harder and harder to come by in many areas, like the Bay Area.

But why not offsource to a far away location like India, China, Eastern Europe, or Africa, where the costs are even lower? Here’s a few good reasons:

  • There isn’t a language barrier to overcome. While English is the defacto language in tech, it doesn’t mean that those in areas of the world where it’s not the predominant language are fluent at it. This is one reason why call centers are moving back to North America in droves.
  • Time difference. It’s quite difficult to work agile with a team when there is little to no overlap in your daily work schedule. In the US, worst case there is a 3 hour time difference between team members, which is quite easy to deal with an enables a team to easily work as one with great visibility. Try that with a 14 hour time difference ( hint: it doesn’t work as well ).
  • Quality of product. This isn’t to say that other countries can’t build something as good as an American, but it’s quite difficult to be agile when there is a time and language barrier to overcome. Offshore teams have to often fall back to building things to spec, since that gives them the best guidance on how to produce what is wanted. But conveying the idea of innovation, thinking outside of the box, or just experimenting tends to not to happen because of the disconnect that happens between developers and product owners. If your team is all on a similar schedule, and can work more agile and less waterfall, the end product will turn out better.
So if you are a company in San Francisco, New York, Boston, or some other high cost market with a shrinking talent pool, try looking else where in the US for talent. By doing it you are saving the US economy, one new hire at a time.

5 thoughts on “Want to save the US economy? Hire remote!

  1. I live just north of Cincinnati and do most of my work in Drupal and have seen more companies from the coasts looking to hire telecommuters. It does make sense from a business stand point too. You don’t have to worry about supplying office space or even equipment.

    There is a downside though and that’s our poor quality internet infrastructure in this country. I live 10 minutes from a pretty major university (Miami of Ohio). You go a mile up the street and there is no broadband solutions at all, short of satellite. Those of us that do have broadband end up with a lot of outages. That’s a big problem. Imagine a telecommuter pushing out a big update and suddenly their internet going out for a couple of hours. Now you got a client, anxiously waiting only to find out that everything has been delayed. I had this exact scenario happen a couple years back when doing a rather large update for a client. Luckily I was able to drive 20 minutes and hit a Starbucks and finish over their WiFi.

  2. @Jamie, this is true that poor quality internet out here can be a problem. I find having a backup internet source ( for me, this is a 3G card ) is a definite need when you get in those sort of situations.

  3. The fix is easy, I can personally hire fifteen million long term great salary people in every State basically over night but every time I get it started I get shut down, amazing how big oil controls all of us, with just a small amount of political help instead of rejection there will be no one un-employed in the US, plus the commodity used is owned by we the people so that commodity will also payoff this unbelievable deficit in less than three years, seems to me Hank Williams hit the nail on the head.
    and as far as taxing the wealthy,, hahahaha, the politicians we elected are the wealthy there is no chance they are going to vote to tax themselves, give me a break.
    I need !
    3 million for IT applications
    9 thousand franchise owners
    5 million mechanics
    4 million for manufacturing
    1 million contractors ( construction )
    2 million for distribution
    the big three will have to retool chevy ford chrysler
    the list goes on we don’t have enough unemployed to fill all the open positions
    I’m not Joe the plumber with one or two employees

    !!!! I’m Dan the GAS man with millions !!!!
    America wants work I give you my word this will employ everyone !!!

  4. This article is just plain wrong…most if not all Indians working in the tech industry are fluent in English, given that it is compulsory in Indian schools! Also the time difference is of benefit not a hindrance if you know how to plan a project properly. With respect to quality, the rework occasionally needed is more than offset by the ridiculous prices charged by US developers for work

    1. I think depending upon the project, yes a pure offshore team can work. This is the case with pure waterfall managed projects, with clear requirements and outcomes. But I feel agile development with such a huge time and cultural difference ( want to differentiate from language a bit since it’s more than just that ), is a huge challenge in such an environment, where hiring US or EU based telecommunters can be much more effective.

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