We live in a global world that now operates 24/7, 365 days a year. We also live in a world where the average office employee works at least one day a week from home, and where having your own set desk at work is becoming a rarity.
This trend of working outside of a set location isn’t just in corporations. With the rise of online learning, and the decrease of examination centres across the globe, it is becoming commonplace for assessment team leaders to not have any face to face contact with their examiners. It is more common than ever to have a team member in a different country to you.
Managing a team that’s spread out over many locations can present huge challenges, even for the most experienced team leader. How can you prevent remote examiners from feeling isolated? How do you get all members to stay on target with their marking, whilst providing high quality assessment?
To help you answer these questions and more, we’ve developed a five-point guide which provides you with simple strategies to help maximise the potential of your remote examiner team.
Although this may seem obvious, it is something that often gets forgotten. Having regular touch points with your remote team of examiners is equivalent to having workplace meetings locally; the only different is the mode of communication. Using built-in software communication tools or messenger apps such as WhatsApp or Skype, means that staying in contact with your team is easier than ever before. It also means that if there are any issues you can relay them back to your team, and vice-versa, quickly and simply.
Introduce a few basic rules and your way of working
People marking from home will rightly want flexibility with their hours, especially if they are actively teaching. It’s important to allow a degree of flexibility when managing a remote team. On the other hand, if things are totally erratic then it will be difficult to get a shared collaboration window when all of your team are online at the same time. Therefore it’s good early on in your management to set hours in which they can contact you if they have any issues. It also means that they can expect some form of communication from you during this time, if necessary.
Tools for keeping track of work
If your awarding body pays based on hours worked, or scripts written, then it makes a lot of sense to track productivity. By tracking productivity, not only will you be able to see if examiners will be able to make their deadline, but you will also be able to see if the marker is eligible for more scripts.
In an office environment you can see who is coming in each day even if you are not tracking attendance. In a completely virtual environment it can be difficult to understand exactly what is going on, how long each person worked, and what they are working on. There are people who are self-motivated enough that they do not need any tracking of attendance or hours. However, there are also those who benefit from a more structured and consistent approach to working from home.
We have included key features in RM Assessor³ to help handle these exact issues, from tracking how long someone takes to mark an exam to reviewing how many scripts they have downloaded. We have also included the option to have seeded scripts to ensure that marking quality is not affected by the move to a remote team.
Motivation and making remote workers feel that they are also part of the team
Remote workers can miss the feeling of an exam marking centre culture. It’s difficult to create and maintain culture through written words alone. It’s much more powerful to create videos and use video conferencing services such as Google Hangouts. You can record hangouts for future team members as well. Use video as a way to inspire your team, and to reinforce core concepts from your awarding body (such as vision and mission) as well as remind people to why they are markers in the first place: to ensure students receive their hard-earned results.
It is also important to remember that your team are human beings wired to connect with others. People can get connected from outside of work, but it’s great to fill some of this need at work as well, even for a virtual team. Therefore it is important to nurture virtual friendships and to help promote non-work related chat, to a certain extent.
Learn more about different markets, cultures, and ways of thinking
If in your remote team examiners are spread around the world, being culturally aware in a virtual environment is even more important than in face to face settings. It’s crucial you have an awareness of the cultural difference in your team as they may communicate or respond differently to the way you might expect within your own culture. Add to that the fact that in technologically mediated situations, people tend to be a bit more abrupt and direct. This can make you more likely to misinterpret what is being said and, conversely, what you’re saying back to be less filtered.
By talking to team members it is possible to learn a great deal about the culture, market structure and ways of thinking for the country they are based in. This not only gives you valuable insight into his or her thought process, it also helps you as a team leader understand what motivates the examiner. It is also often a fascinating topic of conversation, which can help build rapport and loyalty between you and your examiner.