Offshoring – Vacation Time?

Offshoring is a controversial issue and it has supporters and opponents both in the countries where projects are outsorced from and in the countries to which the jobs go. The interests of the parties involved in an offshored project are different, therefore the arguments they have for and against offshoring are also different. But one is for sure – no matter if it is liked or disliked, outsourcing and offshoring are here to stay for the next decades.

It might be a relatively new tendency for the IT industry, but outsourcing and offshoring have existed as forms of the international movement of the capital for many years and many Americans, British and individuals from other Western countries have taken advantage of the opportunity to work abroad in construction, production facilities, the service sector, etc. So why doesn’t this happen with IT as well?

Actually it happens. Probably it is not a mainstream tendency yet and probably it is not voluntarily but because of need but many Western guys are becoming part of multinational teams and are taking jobs that either involve relocation to a foreign country, or at least frequent trips to it.

Anyway, for decades mobility has been typical for the U.S. work force and in lesser extent for Europeans. And this has been one of the reasons for economic prosperity – people go where their jobs are instead of staying at home and waiting for the Job to come. Will this happen with IT offshoring as well?

First, it depends on which country the project is offshored to. If it is a near country, you can take the plane and go home for the weekend. At least many Western European guys, who have business with a country in Eastern Europe do this. In this case relocation is not so tough because it is still easy to keep in touch with your friends and relatives no matter that you live 2 or 3,000 miles away. What is more, for short distances even frequent visits to the offshoring development facilities help and often it is not necessary to consider relocation at all.

But if you live in Florida and your project is in India, it is a different story – frequent visits there are pure waste of time because of the distance and the amount of time you spend at airports and in the air. In this case relocation is a better solution, as far as business is concerned, but relocating there actually means that you are lucky if you come home two or three times a year for a week or so.

Basically, large offshoring projects involve either frequent visits, or complete relocating there. This can be good news for people who like traveling and who hate staying at home. In fact, I do think that very often part of the motivation to do business with offshore partners (besides the purely economic ones) is exactly that – desire to travel, to visit unfamiliar lands, to try some exotic dishes, etc.

There is nothing wrong in this! Actually the mix of cultures is one of the driving forces in the world and so many exciting things in our lives are a result of cultural mix. Tourism and traveling are also positive phenomena but the problems start when tourism and business are mixed together.

It is very different when you go to a foreign country on vacation, on a short trip and when you move there for a long time. When you go on vacation, you expect to have fun there, to lie in the sun, to ski in the mountains, to spend the night in the local disco, etc.

But it is (or at least is supposed to be) different when you go to a foreign country on business. Doing business is a serious activity and when you land in the sunny country with smiling personel, it is better to remember that you are there on business. And in my opinion this does not always happen – there are so many Western guys that mix vacation time with business trips that one starts to wonder if they behave the same way in their home countries or if they are just on a full-time vacation.

Vacation could be a full-time occupation or at least one can get exhausted from active vacation more than from work. It could be pretty challenging to go to work in the morning, after you have spend the whole night it the disco and the only thing you fancy is a bed and a pillow. Well, if work is the only entertainment left, it seems that you have no choice but to drag yourself to the office and spend the day there.

If you have ever been on vacation in Latin America or South East Asia or Europe, you might perceive these countries more as places for fun and entertainment than for serious business. When you get the assignment to work on a project with colleagues from these countries, your heart starts to jump with joy at the thought that you will soon go there. You start dreaming of the sweet moments when you will be away from home and from you spouse, parents and/or children and will spend endless nights in pubs and on the beach.

Actually, the truth might not be far from that. There are many countries, now destination of outsourcing, that have been famous for tourism for ages and that still treat foreigners as tourists who have come to have some fun. When you add national characteristics, for instance hospitality, you might be right to think that doing business with people from these countries will be vacation time for you.

If the project is still in the beginning or at least still in a phase when things are not messed up and everybody is friends with everybody in the team, visiting the foreign country can be a real pleasure. Traditionally many cultures try to make friends with their business partners, which if you, as a representative of the more formal Western culture, have not heard about, could make you think that they are invading your privacy or are not behaving with respect to you, or are trying to distract your attention from serious business issues and so on. But usually it is not so. No matter if they are honest or not, your hosts are really trying to be kind with you, to please you, to show their hospitality.

There are Western guys who like being approached in a more informal way and who don’t. Sometimes, after one overcomes the initial shock of such warm reception, he or she might get used to it and even like it. There are many examples of foreigners who get adapted to the lifestyle in the host country, really enjoy living there for years and do not take it as a sacrifice in the name of their business. Additionally, if you happen to get your “American” salary and are not paid according to local rates, you will enjoy standard of living you cannot even dream of in your country.

It depends on where you offshore but if it happens to be in a “fun-loving” country, your business trips there might really turn into vacation time. While for most professionals in the West the typical routine in the evenings is to go home from work and to go out only at weekends, there are countries where it is normal to go to restaurants and pubs two or three times a week (including weekdays, not only the weekend) and to meet your friends in the evening. Also, it is very common that your colleagues are friends and you go together to discos, cinemas, excursions, etc. Beware – you can also can addicted to it! Although sometimes mixing personal and business relations has negative impact, many locals are just used to it and when they do not have the time to relax with their friends, this influences their productivity at work in a negative way.

This difference in social life between the U.S. / Western Europe and East Europe / Latin America is one of the things that attracts Western guys to the former socialist countries and the states of Latin America. When you get there, you have so much fun that you can hardly have at home. It is just a different culture and soon you feel that you get absorbed by it. If you are young and full life, relocating (or just frequently visiting) those countries could be an exciting experience for you. But still, do not forget that business is business and do not get laid by the relaxing atmosphere around.

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