Workers who have been rejoicing about their ability to log on from anywhere might do well to consider the inverse situation: a worker somewhere else can probably do their job—for cheaper.
That might cost them their job in the long run.
The fact that many jobs that can be done from home can also be done from anywhere around the globe is often missing in the remote work discussion, says Anna Stansbury, an assistant professor of work and organization studies at MIT Sloan School of Business who teaches a course on the future of work.
Companies haven’t yet internationally outsourced many jobs that require higher education, Stansbury tells Fortune, adding that many call center-type jobs, or remote-first 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 “pretty clearly” offer huge savings. The potential for change “would be seismic if all of these well-paid white collar jobs were suddenly outsourced to less rich countries,” she adds.
“If people that code for Google and Facebook were able to live wherever in the U.S. they wanted and [work] for a year and a half without ever going to the office, it seems very, very likely that a lot of companies will be rethinking this longer-term and outsourcing those kinds of jobs that didn’t used to be outsourced,” Stansbury adds.
Be afraid, be very afraid
Stansbury’s not the only person ringing alarm bells on remote work. Experts have said outsourcing remote jobs is a real possibility, one that could fill in the gap of a tight labor market but one that could also not bode well for workers during a recession.
Stansbury cites the research of Richard Baldwin, an economics professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. “If you can do your job from hom …