Feature

Employer Zone - I like where I work because...

Computer Weekly, in association with human resources magazine Personnel Today, is searching for the best places to work in IT. We aim to put together an "alternative prospectus" of good places to work as selected by those who work in them. We have had a phenomenal response and week-by-week we will bring you highlights from some of the entries. This week we get Kelvin Haste's thoughts on working for Somerset County Council in Taunton

Employer Zone: Kelvin Haste Name: Kelvin Haste
Job title: Database manager Company: Somerset County Council Location: Taunton Atmosphere
Describe your office
The office is open plan and usually quiet. People are always very willing to help.

What colour is the carpet in your office? Blue.
How close do you sit to your nearest colleague?
About four paces.

Do you and your colleagues socialise outside of work?
Yes. We like to go to either the Wyvern club or the Pen and Quill pub. We get together after work for a curry once a month.

Any other comments on atmosphere?
The atmosphere is always good. We work at the heart of local government, so we are at the front line for unforeseen events, such as fuel shortages, flooding and foot and mouth. There is always someone to turn to for help when you need it - and in turn you provide that assistance for anyone else.

Location
Are there pubs within walking distance of your office? What are they like?
Yes, at least 10. Most are very good, with decent food as well. The cost of beer ranges from £1.80 to £2.25 a pint.
We tend to congregate at the Old Library in Taunton, which is actually the old public library. The atmosphere is very good and it is less than 100 yards from the office.

Does your office have good transport links?
Our office has very good transport links, but you could just as easily drive as parking is free.

Any other comments on location?
Even though we are in an urban environment, I don't feel that we are in the hub of IT action.

Training
Has your company helped you develop a career path? How has this happened?
Yes. The company places a heavy emphasis on training and development. Regular reviews are held to make sure everyone is kept well informed.

Do staff get the opportunity to move around the company to gain experience?
Yes, people do get to move around and try their hand at something different within the company.

Does your company have its own training department?
We have an in-house training department that promotes training and development.
I have been on a number of courses: developer courses, software usage and reporting.

Technology
Do you get access to cutting-edge technology?
Not usually. Most of the cutting-edge technology is left to senior management.

Is your software updated in line with the latest releases?
Yes.

How old is the oldest computer in your office?
Two years old.

How big is your monitor screen?
19 inches.

Describe any exciting projects you have worked on
I have just finished setting up a database for the largest residents' panel in the world.

Benefits
What benefits does your company provide?
I get 26 days' holiday a year. You can get three months' maternity leave and there is a company pension.

Do you have team-building events? What sorts of things have you done?
Team building events are usually centred on discussion forums. We get some very positive results from these events. Our team-building exercises are away days, where the whole team gets away for a day to further links and strengthen bonds, without the constant interruption of telephones and e-mail.

Does your company provide a subsidised canteen?
Yes, the average meal costs about £3. The curries are wonderful. That is by far my favourite meal.

Describe your IT department in three words
On the ball.

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This was first published in May 2001

 

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