Thursday, April 21, 2005

Off-"shoring"

Here's a crazy idea for offshore outsourcing that somehow is supposed to combine the best of all worlds:
Take a used cruise ship, plant it in international waters three miles off the coast of El Segundo, near Los Angeles, people it with 600 of the brightest software engineers they can find around the world (both men and women), and run a 24-hour-a-day programming shop, thereby avoiding H-1B visa hassles while still exploiting offshore labor cost arbitrage and completing development projects in half the time they’d take onshore or offshore.

“As more people have run the [offshore] gauntlet and found the joys of traveling to India coach class and having three weeks of stuff on their desk when they come back, [they discover] it’s much more disruptive than they ever imagined it would be,” explains Mr. Green.

Before you think, “sweat-ship,” hear them out. These workers, they say, will each have private rooms with baths, meal service, laundry service, housekeeping and access to on-board leisure-time activities. Picture the Love Boat with a timecard. Staff can make the three-mile voyage into town in their off hours by calling a water taxi. Or they can spend time shopping in the on-board duty-free shop.

“Engineers can be kind of quirky in some ways, but they can be really productive if you give them the right setting,” says Mr. Green. “We think we’re going to be putting them in the perfect setting. Very few distractions. They’ll be with similarly motivated people who are really interested in advancing and doing this engineering work. It’ll be this perfect place for getting engineers to work.”

Half the developers will have the day shift and half will have the night shift. “But they’ll probably meet in the middle and chit-chat,” says Mr. Green.
I dunno. Sounds like a cool place to be for, oh, a couple weeks. You'd have to really buy in to the commune way of living.

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