I work remotely, and I have to disagree with your points:
So technically, he billed at $60 an hour
Remote developers often do not have the same benefits as local employees. They do not have the same protections found in employment contracts, they do not have healthcare benefits, they must also buy their own hardware and office equipment and other requirements. Not to mention that if the work is contract-based, they must also do a little marketing.
Even if your assertion is true, $60 is dirt cheap.
A local guy in your office might have gotten things
done in half the time and cost you just as much.
While it is possible to find local talent, the pool of good developers is limited, while the demand is really high. Indeed, local talent has the advantage of being local. However, I would rather work with a remote developer that can get problems solved, than with a hypothetical good local developer that I don't have, or with a local developer that creates more problems than it solves.
There will always be a delay between a request and
the work actually starting
Yes, but in my view, that's a really good thing. As a side effect: (1) management is forced to cut the crap and make specifications as clear as possible + (2) it means that I have a lot of time in which I can concentrate on solving the hard problems, instead of lamenting about the color of a link or have meetings about the next meetings we'll have.
Even when working with local developers, it's always a good idea to NOT interrupt the workflow of developers, unless it is an emergency. If you have to fix the specs, or set out new directions, and you need to do that often, that means you suck at being a manager. That's why Scrum sprints take 1 or 2 weeks during which the developers manage their own schedule, and if something happens that changes the priorities / specs, then the sprint must be restarted (throwing away unfinished stuff, starting from scratch later) ... that's a little extreme from my point of view, but there are good reasons for why some people prefer this.
There are also good tools for managing remote developers, tools such as bug and feature trackers, tools such as Git or ReviewBoard, etc... Really big open-source projects, such as Linux, scaled like crazy with contributers from all over the world. So I really can't see your point.
If there's an emergency, well, you get the picture.
> Except when you're sleeping? And if your time zone = my business hours, that's a problem.
When I work with a company that it's on another timezone. I change my timezone myself to be awake and working when everyone else is working in the office. Even if it means I need to work from 10pm through 6 am.
I'm a remote worker that usually works with companies from the other side of the world and usually travels once or twice a year to do in-location jobs. But that's only when they pay is good enough / I'm interested in working with the people that hire me.
The point was much more specific. He's saying the guy worked slowly, and everything he did took 2x the expected time.
If his rate was $100, it's really now $200. If $200, now $400. (For comparison with another remote worker who works at full speed.)
the actual rate (high or low) wasn't really the point. It wasn't a statement of whether it's expensive or cheap, just an observation that someone who works at $30 "twice as slow" (i.e. half expected speed) is equal - in terms of $/feature - to someone works at $60 at full speed on a like basis - even if that basis is also remote.
(Also, even though $/feature is the same between the two, it's worth bearing in mind that the cheaper guy still takes twice as many days.)