Coronavirus Toolkit for Pastors and Church Leaders:
Transitioning to Remote Work
During the coronavirus outbreak, your church leadership team may not know the best way to proceed with the work of the church.
Many churches are beginning to adopt a remote work model for their staff.
You might think that remote work wouldn’t work for your church staff:
- “Our staff members aren’t self-motivated.”
- “People won’t be productive from home.”
- “We don’t have sufficient communication structures in place to successfully implement a remote work model.”
However, as the coronavirus outbreak spreads, the need to seriously consider a remote option in order to keep your staff and volunteers safe increases by the hour.
Here, we’re going to explain exactly what tools and methods your church can use to successfully use a remote work model to manage your church staff and volunteers while people remain home.
Pro Tip: Read this blog by our CTO Ben Sinclair to learn how Tithe.ly uses the remote work model, and how churches can use it for their benefit.
Remote Work Tools
First, let’s dive into the digital tools that will help your team keep productivity flowing among your church leadership team, staff, and volunteers.
It’s important to note that both tools I mention below have highly functional free plans which are more than enough for a church to do remote work.
Zoom is the best tool for organizing virtual video conference meetings among church staff. Simply download the software for free, create an account (you can even log in through Google), and Zoom enables you to host meetings of up to 100 people, with a 40-minute limit on group meetings. If you pay a small fee ($15–20/mo), you can gain access to other features such as custom URLs, 24-hour meeting limits, etc.
Simply press “Schedule Meeting” on the home screen of your app, select the guests you’d like to invite, and press “Send to recipients.” It will then send all guests a Google Calendar invitation and, when they accept the invitation, an event will automatically populate the guests’ Google Calendars with a link that will take them right to the meeting.
You can also choose to have Google Calendar send reminders to your guests before a meeting starts.
Slack is a chat app that enables users to collect their messages into channels and teams (admin, marketing, sermon prep, worship team, etc). Slack syncs with popular productivity and documentary applications such as Google Suite, Asana, and many more.
Here’s one example of how this works:
If I have Google Drive installed on my Slack application, then I can set it up so that any time someone makes an edit to one of my Google docs, I receive a notification about it in Slack. The same goes for Asana and other productivity tools.
Slack’s iOS and Android apps are highly functional, making it possible to send Slack push notifications to users whenever they receive a message or an update.
The real value of Slack is that it has better file-sharing and collaboration features, and its design is better optimized for team collaboration, than alternatives such as Gmail or iMessage. One of the enormous benefits of Slack is that it significantly increases the rate at which tasks can be resolved asynchronously.
In other words, the nature of remote work is such that schedules, tasks, and activities can become less coordinated. Slack solves this problem to a large degree. If you require your team to be accessible on Slack from 8:00–5:00, Wed–Sun, then you have the same access to your team as you would if you were in-person.
Remote Work Strategies
If you’re interested in implementing remote work at your church for the long term, I recommend reading the book Remote: Office Not Required by the founders of Basecamp. You’ll find a deep and engaging argument for a remote work model, as well as tips for optimizing a remote work setup for productivity, organizational health, and team building.
Here are some practical tips for orchestrating productivity in a remote work environment:
- Have a weekly team meeting.
- Schedule one-on-one's with key staff.
- Don't be afraid to make a phone call.
- Consider daily 15-minute video meetings to talk through tasks.
- Make all essential resources digitally accessible (e.g., Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.).
- Use a project management system such as Asana (if you're not already).
- Make sure your team has what they need to get their job done.
- Clarify expectations with your team.
- Provide daily check-ins, goals, and tasks.
Use these tools and methods to successfully implement a remote work model in your church. During this time of emergency, it is essential to prioritize the physical health of your employees above the convenience of your on-site work model. Few organizations are thrilled to be thrust into a virtual environment by a pandemic. And yet, many are embracing remote work for the very same reason: The health of the public is worth sacrificing the circumstances which enable marginal productivity advantages.
It’s time for your church to embrace this model for this season, especially since it is unclear when this crisis will be resolved.
With a remote work model, church leaders are still able to effectively lead their teams, properly attend to their flocks, and even grow their churches simply by choosing to adopt the digital media which constrain current workflows, but which place give your team tools which are designed to catalyze growth at scale.
Embrace this season of church life in which practices are mediated digitally. Trust that God will bless and care for your church during this time, as you take the proper precautions to protect your congregation from the spread of coronavirus in the church.