Fred Murray: We Are Shifting To A Remote Working Environment -- 5 Reasons Not To Panic.

Updated: Oct 6, 2020


One of the scariest moves I ever made as an Executive Pastor was allowing an employee to work remotely. The fear most likely stems from my childhood and 6th-grade Abeka homeschool. My mom would head off to work and then I would begin my school day. Right at 9:00 AM, I would turn on the VCR and press play to begin my school day. I did this every weekday for a month because I was an excellent student. Then it hit me. No one has come to check on me. Why not turn the other TV to watch school and TV at the same time. I essentially learned nothing the rest of the year except that I really like watching morning talk shows.


My initial concern with allowing employees to work remotely was that they would clock in and then turn on the TV and not get any work done. Thankfully I have developed some safeguards such as task-based work due on specific days and for starters not hiring 6th graders helps.


I was told by Sam Rainer 13 months prior to COVID that remote workers are the way for the future, and they would be a huge help to your organization. Let’s take a few minutes and briefly go over some of the benefits.


1. Hiring is so much easier

One of the most difficult tasks for any employer is finding someone to fill a position. Typically we try to post the job on all the relevant job posting boards or jump on our favorite Facebook group to let all our friends know we are currently looking for someone to fill a certain position. When you hire remote workers, you open up a to world of people who may only want to work 10- 20 hours a week. You can now hire that talented church member who already knows your culture and wants to work while her kids are at school. You can hire that person who is passionate about small groups and would love to work after their 9-5 is done. Remote workers are the greatest asset your supervisors can have. They focus on one or two areas and they become very good at it if properly trained. Plus you don’t have to conduct dozens of interviews and fly people from across the county to interview.


2. Firing is so much easier

My least favorite part of my job is firing someone. I HATE IT!! Thanks to the counsel of my friend Sam, I typically don’t fire remote workers. All of my remote workers have 12-month agreements. Once the 12 months are over, they understand that their services are complete. I do allow them to request an additional year at the 9-month mark. I have granted that at times since the position they were working in remained unchanged. Sometimes I have not granted the extension for various reasons. I have also had the staff not continue due to family obligations. The nice thing is both the employee and the employer maintain flexibly for each of their needs, and the employer can easily bring them back if a new position opens up.


3. You reduce your overhead

I remember when every employee had their own office to work in. It was a pain to make sure we had enough rooms and desks to accommodate everyone. With a remote setup, very few employees even have a permanent desk. When staff comes into the office, they just grab a workstation, put down their laptop and get to work. I even got rid of my office because most days are quiet due to the large amount of remote work we have going on.


4. You boost staff morale

Not only do we hire people to work from remote locations we also allow large chunks of our key employees work week to be done outside the office. We call it “Work From Anywhere.” This allows our main department heads to from home, Starbucks, or even the beach. I have had an employee start a vacation a day or two early and work on the white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast. This process allows each employee to decide on what task they can do best in a private setting or an office setting. The big question that you may be asking is how do I keep my employees accountable? The answer is found in point five.


5. You Focus on Key Goals and Make Better Decisions

Every employee including myself has weekly and quarterly goals that must be accomplished. These goals shape my work week and help me, and the team develop a weekly schedule called a 168 (the number of hours in a week) to ensure we are making time for our goals. This 168 schedule forces each employee to track the key task to ensure the company mission is being achieved. If goals are met rewards for success are given, if they are not met on a consistent basis then you are able to make informed decisions on future employment. The concept of remote working gives both parties freedom. The employee has way more flexibility in controlling some if not all of their schedule. The employer has the freedom to make employment decisions based on facts (goals and key tasks accomplished or not accomplished) and not subjective feelings.


COVID has forced us to look at the way we work throughout the week in a different way. If you are considering any type of remote work have a plan, be patient, give it time to get the glitches worked out. If it blows up and does not work for you, feel free to go back to the typical work week if that is what helps you best accomplish your goals.



Fred Murray

Southern Hills Church

Idea Network

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