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Church's Chicken Shares Distributed Workforce Plan, Corporate Office Experience


In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Church’s Chicken has shared the multifaceted HR transformation taking place at the its headquarters in Atlanta. Based on a solid strategic plan, the new workplace advances are allowing the brand to effectively adjust and respond to an ever-changing restaurant business environment.

COVID-19 is causing many industries – hospitality included – to quickly adapt to new ways of conducting business, which of course includes a large work-from-home employee base. 

“The employment landscape is changing rapidly in America,” said  Karen Viera, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer for Church’s. Viera and her team has been working closely with Beyond CorpComm to create and execute a Transformation Journey to the brand’s workplace and employment policies since late 2019. The most noteworthy new developments include:

People First. Safety Always.

Since the first days of the crisis, Church’s has been committed to acting responsibly to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The brand quickly adopted elevated safety and social distancing precautions such as limiting the number of people in the office, advanced cleaning and sanitation protocols, and remote-office placement for those with vulnerable health care status as recognized by the CDC. Additionally, those with vulnerable family members within their households may request remote-office assignment with no decrease in benefits or salary. Further, Church’s states it is prepared to continue these precautionary measures long term, fueled by the understanding that it may be quite some time before COVID-19 can be completely eliminated through a combination of vaccinations and effective treatments. 

Unified Building Strategy

Until recently, the Church’s corporate team occupied two separate buildings within the office complex where headquarters is located, and the brand’s test kitchen, supply chai, and research and development teams occupied two floors. This often led to unnecessary delays in ad-hoc meetings and conversations necessary for immediate decision-making.  Although the test kitchen and research and development team will remain in place to ensure uninterrupted operations, Church’s is combining its offices to a single building to allow for more frequent exchange relationships, critical to planning and other business activities.


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Expansion of Remote Office Model

To accommodate a transformation to a more efficient building, the majority of the Church’s corporate team will be observing a new remote office schedule with some employees becoming 100% remote, and other remote-eligible employees working remotely up to three days a week. The innovative new, “Distributed Workforce” policy splits up on-site and remote days by team, ensuring that all staff members who work together in the same functional areas are together in the office on the same days. Groups will take alternating days on-site and off-site and all teams will observe Fridays as remote-office days. The aim of the policy – which goes into effect on June 15 – is to allow for better social distancing and time for employees to watch over children and family members at home while communities adjust to the “new normal.” 

The company used research-based judgement and multi-dimensional considerations to determine work and roles that lent itself to a remote or split work model.  This, in combination with analyzing their floor plan to ensure workspace, safety, organizational readiness, and preparedness, provides improved social distancing while also preserving the dynamics of in-personal team engagement, safely and responsibly.

The broader roll-out is being tested throughout the rest of the summer with the aim of evaluating its effectiveness throughout the fall and beyond.  Church’s will be assisting workers as needed to set up home offices with the appropriate tools and technology considerations at the company’s expense. Remote employees will also be given an office supply budget.

Maximizing How and Where Work Takes Place

To stay ahead of the curve, the scope of their Transformation Journey also includes training and technology.  A comprehensive “Business Health & Safety Guidelines” has become a required course on their learning management system, encouraging safety as a shared responsibility across among all team members—and across all levels of the organization.  The brand is also growing their archive of content on their award-winning intranet site, Team Church’s, which shares new workplace practice policies, regularly updated CDC guidelines, FAQs, and best practices, tools, and tips for making remote work more successful. Effective planning is also allowing for quick expansion of Church’s business infrastructure, with high-level accessibility and security made possible through the selection of Microsoft Teams as the brand’s go-to virtual conferencing solution for all team members on a global scale.

All these measures, layered together, are helping Church’s prepare for the new norm with a People First, Safety Always philosophy to best ensure the continuity of their business, retain their workforce, and continue to serve new and repeat guests around the world.

“Our people are our most valuable asset at Church’s,” explained Viera about the new approach. “The tremendous gains of the past few years would have been impossible without our teams working at every level to make this brand one of the leaders in the industry. The needs of workers aren’t the same as they were 20 years ago, or even two years ago. We don’t have to limit ourselves with that kind of thinking. We absolutely can give employees more of what they want while still meeting and exceeding company goals. The technology and resources are there – and so is the personal commitment to make this new era work well for everyone.”

Joe Christina, the company’s CEO agreed. “We said 2020 was going to be the year that Church’s Stakes Its Claim to be a leader in our category, in our industry, and in business in general. None of that happens without engaging employees in that journey. We’ve often said our aim is to be Global Franchisor of Choice, but we also hold an equally strong drive to be the Global Employer of Choice. I applaud the work of Ms. Viera, Beyond CorpComm, and all of the employees who have made – and will make – this transformation possible.”

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