Bob does his own workforce planning by outsourcing his job to China

Hitting the news last week was a story about an employee who outsourced his own job to China, at 20% of his wage, so that he could watch cat videos all day while getting paid.

Bob and Bob - Productivity Consultants from the movie

Bob and Bob – Productivity Consultants from the movie “Office Space”

According to The Next Web, “Bob” was paid several hundred thousand dollars a year across multiple employers, and outsourced the lot to China for $50,000 a year.  His typical work-day was something 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.

Verizon, the company who ultimately discovered what was happening (not the employer) said on their blog: “Investigators had the opportunity to read through his performance reviews while working alongside HR. For the last several years in a row he received excellent remarks. His code was clean, well written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.”

What’s surprising is not that this is possible (though Tim Ferris, author of the best-seller the 4 Hour Work Week should get in contact for a case study), or that someone would try it.  It’s certainly not surprising that Bob was fired.  What’s surprising to me is that “Bob” got away with it for a long time, and may never have been detected had he set up his VPN properly to make it look like the connection was coming from his home (and, as a telecommuter, actually watched his cat videos from home, rather than come into the office).

I’d love to know if the organisation that Bob worked for is now looking at an “official” outsourcing the role – clearly his tasks were location independent and results based, and Bob’s “results” were the best in the organization at 20% of the cost.
What are your thoughts – is Bob the hero or the villain in this story?  And assuming his employment prospects as a developer are dim now, what career should Bob move into?