How to save your job from remote work offshoring risks

remote work

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Many people are rejoicing that the pandemic has allowed them to enjoy the benefits of remote work.

There’s no doubt that some people’s quality of life improves when they work remotely. The average American spends nearly an hour commuting, and commutes in major cities are even longer. Flexibility, free time and family time takes a hit. Some people are more productive in a quiet home environment.

But not all workers are excited about remote work from home.

Any job that can be done 100 percent remotely is a job that can probably be done for less money by someone in Mumbai or Manila.

So let’s take a look at this risk today.

Should workers fear remote work offshoring?

My dad, a financial analyst turned futures trader turned marketing professor, brought up remote work offshoring after dinner. We’d discussed globalization earlier this week and with the hubris of a Millennial, I kept pointing out the greed behind offshoring. But he challenged my narrative when he recalled:

“I remember talking with the people who ran those small-to-medium-sized businesses in the Midwest. They didn’t want to send their manufacturing jobs overseas but they could no longer compete against their rivals once the bigger companies had offshored. And their decision became: close a factory in Detroit and keep the white collar jobs local or close the entire company. They hated it.”

This situation is repeating itself. As our pandemic has pushed more companies into going remote, executives have finally learned to manage remote teams and companies are backing out of expensive office leases. While this is a great lifestyle change for most white-collar workers, it’s also creating an opening for remote work offshoring.

There are going to be sympathetic bosses doing this. There will be good managers firing workers in Tucson and Des Moines not because of performance but because the shift to digital work has made the workforce pool include anyone with a stable Internet connection.

And while we’ve all been dreading automation, the future of work, and the advent of A.I. disrupting our job-based economy, the move to remote work will prove a more immediate threat to our way of life.

How to prevent your remote work from being offshored

But enough doom and gloom—we’ve all had our fill of that these days! Let’s be more positive. Here’s what can be done to save your job from remote work offshoring.

No company can offshore a job that only you can do. Here are four good methods of becoming your employer’s only logical choice:

  1. Develop unique skills
  2. Become the face of your company
  3. Practice a trade
  4. Become KNOWN

Now, let’s break down each of these points into more actionable steps.

1. Develop unique skills

To stand out with your skills, you don’t have to be the very best at something, but you could be the one person who can do several very different skills. In Hollywood, someone who could sing, dance, and act was known as a “triple threat” and adds more potential value to an ensemble.

Likewise in baseball, it’s not uncommon for a great hitter to be sent down to the minors for a lesser prospect who has the flexibility to play many positions. On paper, it might look like the better player has been left behind for somebody who actually creates more value for the team.

There’s an amazing book about overlapping skills that everyone in our current economy should read. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World is David Epstein’s analysis of why a breadth of skills often outperforms the so-called 10,000 hour experts out there. It’s fascinating and a good start for exploring your potential to be the best comedian-technologist-salesperson out there.

2. Become the face of your company

When people talk about the importance of networking I often nod along until they get to methodology. Yes, knowing the right people and maintaining relationships over time is vital. But business cards and LinkedIn messages and CRMs are tools, not strategies. And employing them time and again makes you seem all tool and no follow-through.

Instead of connecting with lots of people, focus on intensely helping a few people. Pick your company’s less tech-savvy clients and walk them through your product set up. Give them your email and direct work phone number for when they run across issues. If you can’t fix their problem yourself, make it your problem to find the person who can.

If you become the person that clients trust most, the person they ask for by name when the SIV hits the FRB and no one else knows what to do, you’ll always have a job.

3. Learn a trade

“Marry a plumber.” My grandma used to tell me. “They’ll always have work.”

There’s more wisdom in that than you might think. A skilled job done with your hands in a designated domestic location cannot, by definition, be offshored … until drones are equipped with opposable thumbs, anyway.

If you learn a trade on top of your current skillset you’ll always have business to fall back on. And many states offer assistance in learning much-needed trade skills. Google your state name and “skills training” or “apprenticeships.” The U.S. Department of Labor budgeted $100 million to support on-job paid training in the form of apprenticeships this year. Take advantage of the skills gaps your state is experiencing.

4. Become KNOWN

The final way to secure your job might not be the easiest path, but Mark Schaefer did write an extensive roadmap to doing it. Become KNOWN.

Mark Schaefer said in his famous book: “Being known is not the same as being famous. It’s not about having millions of fans and red carpet appearances. Becoming known is about approaching your digital life with an intent that establishes the authority, reputation, and audience to achieve your goals.”

While effective, his process of establishing yourself as an expert does take time. If you’re worried about your job now, combine this strategy with the problem-solving of the second strategy and make content to help your clients solve their largest problems.

Anytime your product is updated, make a quick YouTube video with your face and a clear explanation of the changes and anything confusing that might occur. Make a step-by-step guide to changing your password or creating a secure password.

Anticipate your clients’s needs and address them as yourself, the helpful expert in the product, and that will kick start your fanbase.

(Just a quick side-note: I also highly recommend the workbook version of KNOWN, which is an easier quick reference than the many Post-it notes I was marking my book with until I realized there was a simpler way! But keep in mind that it accompanies but does not replace the full-text book.)

Start NOW

Now is the time to secure your remote work position by putting these techniques into practice. Don’t wait–many of these strategies require time to fully pay off. Also be sure to review your past accomplishments and publications to see if any can be repurposed to fit these categories.

Good luck, and share any tips you might have with all of us in the comments below!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a freelance marketer who enjoys finding the bright sides of new trends. She has worked on multiple entrepreneurial projects, including founding a small video chat company that sunsetted before the advent of the pandemic. You can email Kiki Schirr at her full name without spaces at Gmail but she does respond faster on Twitter.



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