How to Develop Organizational Culture in an E-Business

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on September 28, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Working Virtually

It’s a good business decision to outsource: It’s often cheaper to hire outsource staff than to hire in-house. At times, the per-hour cost of outsource staff might be slightly higher than an in-house staff (depending on where the outsource staff is located), but there is less overhead, no payment of benefits and bonuses, and the business can be covered around the clock. More and more businesses today are looking to outsource since business owners need to better manage their time and focus their efforts. And, it’s made so much easier with web-based virtual assistance firms for VA’s and freelancing sites specialists.

But this outsourcing creates an additional issue that businesses are now dealing with: How do you create a strong organizational culture in a business context that includes outsource service providers, virtual assistants, freelancers, and consultants?

The importance of creating that culture is important. After all, you don’t want to have an “us-versus-them” mentality in your business, with in-house staff not appreciating the value that the outsource staff can provide (and the outsource staff not knowing what’s going on). Instead, you want to have a business operating as a strong, single entity focused on keeping your customers happy.

While it can seem daunting to create that organizational culture it’s really not.

It starts with communication. Make sure that you give your staff (both in-house and outsource) plenty of ways to communicate with each other. Email is one way, instant messaging is another, even Twitter might be a good way. (Just make sure that you’re clear in what your outsource staff can bill).

Set up periodic conference calls as frequently as you might set up a normal in-house meeting. For example, a weekly conference call in which everyone dials in might be a valuable way to touch base and keep everyone up to date. Make sure you hear from everyone. Consider using meeting software like Adobe Connect so people can see each other, share desktops, and take notes, just like in a regular meeting. There might be a slightly increased cost in paying wages for the hour-long meeting, but the enhanced, productive relationships that come out of that will be worth the expense.

Be intentional about who you assign to projects. Connect an in-house person with an outsource service provider; don’t just connect two in-house people because they happen to be in the same room when you need the work done.

Team-building is a little more difficult to do in this situation but not impossible. Have a contest, pairing your in-house staffers each with an outsource service provider (or even two outsource service providers), and give them a project or business problem to find a creative solution to. Again, you might initially resist the added cost, but this builds relationships between team members and it’s still way more productive than having your in-house people in a room for a bunch of silly team-building games.

Today’s business is not done in-house. Businesses of all sizes are spread around the globe and require mindset changes. Remember, if you want to get the best out of all of your team members (in-house and outsource) you’ll want to build a strong organizational culture.

About the author: Heather Villa, MBA CMA MSM, is a Business Coach and Entrepreneur. She helps business owners achieve success in operations, productivity, project management, and social media. Read her other articles at and visit for more information.

Disclaimer: © 2009 Heather Villa. Permission is granted to repost this article. Article must be published in its entirety, including author bio, and all links must remain intact.

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