The eCatholic team is made up of 18 team members. But did you know that more than half our team works remotely?
- While Doug covers the support inbox from Denison, Texas…
- Cindy coordinates custom designs from Portland, Maine…
- Amy creates beautiful themes from Vancouver, Canada…
- Luke serves our diocesan clients from Layfayette, Louisiana…
- …with the help of Diane from Avon, Indiana…
- Anne helps our clients accept donations and payments from Shiner, Texas…
- And I create marketing content from Bismarck, North Dakota.
Did I mention that our local team works from eCatholic HQ in College Station, Texas…but still enjoys the benefits of remote work on work-from-home Wednesdays and Fridays?
eCatholic has found remote work to be a significant blessing and a cornerstone of our culture. We recently sat down together (not literally in the same place, of course) to discuss our latest team read: Remote: Office Not Required. Our discussion unearthed some of the key benefits of remote work, the challenges/dangers we face, and tips on how to make our remote work better.
Why should you care? It’s fairly uncommon for churches, dioceses, and other Catholic organizations to embrace remote work as a viable option.* By outlining some of the lessons we’ve learned from working remotely, we don’t want to suggest that everybody should start working remotely right now. Instead, consider it to be food for thought as you navigate the environment at your organization.
After all, perhaps Catholic organizations could benefit from readily embracing remote work.
*(Raise your hand if you do work for the Church remotely; we’d love to chat about your experience!)
Key benefits of working remotely
No schedule! Pajamas all day! Well…not exactly. Here are some of the real benefits we’ve identified of working remotely:
The modern office has become an interruption factory. (Can I hear an “Amen!”?!) Meetings, “drive-by’s,” more meetings, conference calls, another meeting. Working remotely allows us to create personal workspaces where we can control distractions and really get into the zone.
Flexibility and family connectedness
Many of our teammates have young children. (Personally, I’ve got three kids at home; the oldest is four.) Naturally, you’re thinking: “How can you be more productive when you’ve got 3 kids nibbling at your ankles?!”
Sure, little ones near the work zone can be a challenge at times. But, in fact, many of us identified remote work as having a positive impact on our relationship with our families. The increased flexibility allows us to be more present (when needed), and I personally like to “come up for air” throughout the day and spend five minutes wrestling with the kids. Rejuvenated, I head back to my dedicated office and get to work.
As an organization rooted in Catholic values, this benefit is huge.
Access to the best talent
When an organization is open to hiring remote-working employees, it instantly (and exponentially) increases the pool of talent from which to draw. Which talent/skill set does your organization need the most? Somebody, somewhere is highly qualified to get the job done.
From our experience, many Catholic organizations struggle finding employees adept in digital skills (e.g., design, video, digital marketing, website management). Don’t let geographic location prevent you from hiring the best candidates.
Challenges of working remotely (and how we’ve fought them)
Of course, it’s not all lollipops and gummy bears. Here are some of the dangers we’ve encountered while establishing a culture that embraces remote work.
Balancing work life vs. personal life
Working from home can cause you to work all the time…because you’re always home. Our team discussed the importance of developing a routine when working remotely. For example, sticking to a schedule is important…but the schedule might not be 9-5. (Just ask Joe, who regularly knocks out tasks from 5:30 – 7 a.m.)
In addition, identifying a dedicated work space and even specific work clothes can help. Cindy has “jackets for work” and “jackets for real life” to 1) stay warm in sometimes-chilly Maine, and 2) help her brain reinforce when it’s time to get to business.
Most importantly, our leadership team has made it a priority to lead by example in this area. By demonstrating healthy working hours and moderation, team members know when to relax after an honest day’s work.
Combating the “work from home” stigma
This challenge can go two ways: Remote-working Anne could feel the need to constantly prove that she’s actually working, which can lead to stress and burnout. Non-remote Stephen could get jealous because Anne gets to sit at home all day and “do nothing” while he has to make a 20-minute commute to the office.
If remote work is going to succeed at your organization, the stigma attached to remote work needs to be destroyed.
At eCatholic, we’ve adopted these philosophies to combat the remote work stigma:
- You Are Trusted
- The Work Speaks For Itself
Staying connected and collaborating effectively
Not only can remote work lead to loneliness and a sense of being disconnected, it also can make collaboration difficult.
Remember that remote work isn’t all-or-nothing. Josh likes to spend the mornings at the office, then head home after lunch. The change of scenery gives him a boost. Plus, it helps him stay connected and enjoy the benefits of each environment.
It’s important to have the proper technology in place so that remote workers don’t feel like they live on an island. We use Google Docs (cloud-based shared documents), Asana (task management), HelpScout (shared inboxes), and Zoom (video conferencing, chat, and screen sharing) to make long-distance collaboration as seamless as possible.
Could remote work actually work?
Don’t get us wrong, the traditional office is not evil. And remote work is not a panacea. But our experience (and the experience of countless other organizations, big and small) begs the question: Could remote work actually work for you?
Tell us about your experience! Have you worked remotely? Wish you could? Which of the challenges of remote work resonates the most with you?