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Video Calls – They’re Pandemic!

© 2020 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
Ministry Business Services, Inc. President
Reprinted from XPastor.org

The coronavirus (Covid-19) has many staff working from home, and there are a number of things worth considering as you manage the ‘brand’ of your church in a distributed work environment.

Video Call Solution Standardization
It’s important to select a video calling solution or two the church believes will serve its needs well while also protecting those in the video calls, and then requiring the team to use that/those solution(s). That may seem obvious, but most are not doing that strategically. And left to choose whatever they want, many church team members are choosing a common video platform that falls significantly short: Zoom. It has vulnerabilities that could compromise and embarrass call participants and the church. Consider, for instance, if on a church small group video call, the participants were shocked when a bad actor crashed into the call and began showing unwelcome things via their webcam. This is happening so often that it’s even been given a name: zoombombing!

There are a number of solutions that work well, and may not even cost the church to use. Here are my preferences:

  1. If everyone on the call– or in the small group– has an Apple iPhone, use Facetime! It’s safe, and there’s probably no learning curve for the participants.
  2. If you’re an O365-using church, use Teams! You already have it– probably for free since Microsoft wants to work with the church. And it can be extended to include those you want in calls that aren’t in your domain, or tenant.
  3. GoToMeeting is also a good solution, and they offer it free for 30 days! Each call can have up to 250 participants.

Appearance Standardization
Does your church have a dress code? If so, publish to your team a reminder of it, or policy relaxation guidelines. The video calls team members make from home still represent the church, so let them know if wearing their bathrobe in those calls is acceptable. Set minimum guidelines.

Also, what minimum standards do you have for the environment they’re working in? Some things to consider include the background (Teams has the ability to blur the background!), pets and children, breakfast bowl in front of the camera, and so on.

Care of/Provision for Employees
We care about the members of our team. What if they don’t own an ergonomic desk and chair? Or don’t have appropriate lighting? Or A/C if it’s getting warm? Or poor bandwidth? Identify in advance what you’re willing to do to help, which will aid in responding fairly to all requests.

Workspace Concerns
Perhaps you’ll let employees take their church work chair home, or desk lamp. A/C installation, however, may be more than the church is willing to improve.

Bandwidth Concerns
Some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are willing to increase the contracted bandwidth (speed of the internet connection) for those working from home for awhile at no charge! But not all, so I suggest that if a team member requests a bandwidth increase, tell them to contact their ISP to see what can be done. If there’s going to be a monthly increase, add it to their base pay (rather than a pay stub separate line item which says the church is paying for it). Be aware, however, that increased bandwidth may not help video call quality if there are others in the home who are playing video games or streaming since those services will often expand their bandwidth consumption based on total availability.

Lord willing, the church will get through the Covid-19 pandemic, and come out of it even stronger than we were going in! My personal prayer is that this will be the beginning of a revival!

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