Turns Out That Someone Actually Did Shadow Outsourcing

I first heard about personal outsourcing in Tim Ferriss’ book The Four-Hour Workweek. The idea is simple: take certain parts of your life and outsource them to a digital assistant overseas at an almost negligible cost. This frees you up to learn something, start a side business, or travel.

This idea taken another notch further is called ‘personal shadow outsourcing.” This is essentially where someone takes their entire job, outsources it overseas, and collects a paycheck for doing essentially nothing except for the bare minimums to keep up appearances that they are in fact doing their job. Neat idea, but nobody actually did it. It’s all been the stuff of lunchtime rumors.

Until Bob. Kevin Kelly tells the story of a guy who shadow outsourced his job and got away with it — for a while:

“As it turns out, Bob had simply outsourced his own job to a Chinese consulting firm. Bob spent less that one fifth of his six-figure salary for a Chinese firm to do his job for him. Authentication was no problem, he physically FedExed his RSA token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average 9 to 5 work day. Investigators checked his web browsing history, and that told the whole story.

A typical ‘work day’ for Bob looked like this:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos

11:30 a.m. – Take lunch

1:00 p.m. – Ebay time.

2:00 – ish p.m Facebook updates – LinkedIn

4:30 p.m. – End of day update e-mail to management.

5:00 p.m. – Go home

Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area.

What busted Bob? Browser history.

Kevin Kelly, in his blog post, attaches a Dilbert strip from August 3, 2003, and it couldn’t be more apropos.


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