Gary Chapple, Richard Mead and Rhys Stephens joined UKAS at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a new way of remote working. They were in the first cohort to complete a virtual induction programme and since then, our new Assessment Managers have been virtually onboarding and integrating with the business remotely. Hear directly from our new Assessment Managers about their experience so far.
Agri-Food, Life Sciences & Asbestos Section
After a week of on-site induction at the Staines office I made the long journey from South Wales to Newcastle for my first observation assessment, only for the lockdown to come into place shortly after I arrived at the hotel. This changed the course of our onboarding programme and I have since been observing remote assessments using Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. With support and mentoring from my manager, I have successfully moved through the training process and I have recently started to conduct ‘training’ assessments remotely. As travelling is normally a big part of the role, I have found that being able to spend more time concentrating on training without the travel has been beneficial. The greatest challenge for me has been not having the real face to face contact with colleagues and customers. I’ve overcome this by knowing the situation isn’t permanent and increasing communication by other routes such as Whatsapp to build rapport and relationships. Everyone I’ve come into contact with so far has been so friendly, helpful and supportive and it has really made me feel welcome and part of the team.
One week into my role at UKAS, the organisation switched to working from home for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19. Although I am used to homeworking from previous roles, this was daunting as it was the first time I would have completed induction and training entirely remotely. Following from the initial virtual induction programme, I have observed two remote assessments so far. I have regular training catch up sessions with my line manager and weekly team meetings through Microsoft Teams, which works really well. I also recently undertook a UKAS virtual training course using Adobe Connect. I was surprised at how well the platform worked and how much I was able to interact with the trainers and other delegates. Whilst I have enjoyed not having to commute in order to spend more time focussed on getting to grips with the role, I am sad to have missed the opportunity to properly bond face to face with the other new recruits in my cohort but we have tried our best through regular catch-up sessions. Overall, I would say it has been a positive experience and the virtual training course was certainly a big success for me. I’d definitely recommend it if you are thinking of signing up!
Our virtual induction was conducted over a three-week period and was very interactive including things like role-play activities. Since then, I’ve observed five remote assessments to date covering a range of laboratory activities from forensic crime scene evidence recovery to material non-combustibility testing. I have observed these assessments mostly using Microsoft Teams supported by emailed documents, uploaded videos and screen sharing / video streaming. I’ve had the opportunity to be actively involved in assessment discussions and improvement action write-up and have learned a lot. My Senior Assessment Manager has been very supportive and very willing to discuss any aspects where I need clarification and the support of the other new starters has been key to this whole process. The main benefit for me of onboarding remotely is that I have had the opportunity to complete some training activities at my own speed however, this did result in working longer days and I’m now working on managing my time better. The beginning of my journey with UKAS has been very different to what I expected but it has been a positive experience, and everyone has done a good job in dealing with a difficult set of circumstances.