Yourself, outsourced

Outsourcing your own job? Why didn't we think of this?

Outsourcing is a fact of life that helps businesses cut costs while creating employment opportunities in developing countries. Among the most visible (or audible) examples are the call centres that many British and American companies have set up in the Philippines and India, where staff speak English and have the other requisite skills, but work for lower pay.

A US-based computer programmer, identified only as "Bob", added a new wrinkle to the practice when he outsourced his own job, without telling his employer. Communications company Verizon reported this week that Bob arranged for a consultancy in Shenyang, China to handle his duties in return for less than one-fifth of his handsome salary.

Bob appeared to be working a regular business day, but he was actually looking at cat videos and playing on Facebook. Because he worked unsupervised from home, it took an audit by security experts to rumble him.

His apparent expertise in many programming languages led co-workers to believe Bob was a genius. They were right - but his particular brand of genius got him fired and could have led to jail. He did, however, alert his employer to the fact that there's a whole world of talent out there.