It’s surprising how much tension there can be about something as seemingly mechanical as office hours. But the truth is, it represents your culture, relationships and partially sets the tone for the work ethic of your church team.
It’s a little complicated to write on this topic because not every group of staff have the same roles and responsibilities. Therefore, different teams have different needs when it comes to office hours.
For example, it’s commonly a good idea for the majority of your administrative and support staff to have regular office hours usually something close to the traditional business times of 8:00am to 5:00pm.
However, in some situations an administrative staff person, for example, a campus administrative assistant might work 4-5 hours on a Sunday. There are many reasons why flexibility is helpful in setting what the actual “office” hours are for some staff.
(Note: this post does not address working from home. That is an entirely different subject.)
To be more practical and therefore helpful, this article will concentrate on the pros and cons of church staff that are more ministry focused, (rather than administratively focused.)
The following is not an argument for a particular schedule, but rather practical ideas to help you think through what is best for your team.
Before the list of pros, let me suggest that your ministry staff may be served well by some regular office hours together, but not their full work week, and rarely is ministry contained to a 40-hour week. Again, it all depends on what their responsibilities are.
The Pros of Office Hours:
The scope and complexity of the work in large and very large churches is facilitated better with proximity and quick access amongst staff. Again, perhaps not 40+ hours, but a substantial number of hours when the team knows everyone is there.
2) Teams who are project-based are served well by set office hours.
The idea here is that if a particular member of the team is not present, the project gets delayed and off schedule. It can then impact morale because others must scramble to make up for the person not present.
3) Overall communication is enhanced through regular office hours.
It’s difficult to over-communicate on a church staff. When the staff has regular hours together, they are naturally more apt to communicate more often and therefore catch and correct things quickly.
It’s much easier to maintain and cultivate positive and productive working relationships with consistent time together.
The Cons of Office Hours:
1) Office hours can be used as a substitute for trust and accountability.
If you don’t trust that your staff are working, then you have the wrong staff. If there is an individual issue, address that person, don’t set a policy. Trust and accountability are never truly fostered by policy.
2) Ministry scheduling does not fit into the standard 8:00am to 5:00pm time structure.
A significant amount of ministry takes place outside the normal business hours.
Sunday is the obvious example. Depending on the size of your church, ministry staff can easily work anywhere from four to ten, even twelve hours on a Sunday.
Student ministry is often during the week and sometimes multiple nights a week, ministry training is often on an evening, etc.
3) The needs of people cannot always be met at or in the church building.
From hospital visits to weddings, funerals, and community gatherings like fundraisers and board meetings, plus evangelistic connections, etc., much of ministry takes place away from the church building and happens at irregular hours.
4) Personal productivity isn’t always maximized by set hours.
I’ve addressed the importance of the team being together in the pros section, but not every staff member is wired the same way.
The work hours for individual staff members might be better maximized by allowing them to work according to their personality. For example, some might flourish by starting at 6:30am and going home earlier in the day. Others might be more productive by starting at 9:00am or even 10:00am and going home early evening.
So, what about your church staff teams? What is best for you?
I’d love to read a comment from you. What pro or con would you add to either list?