Awards: Staff need to let their hair down

Shortlisted firms in the Best Places to Work in IT 2006 Awards see social activities as vital in building team spirit among employees

Shortlisted firms in the Best Places to Work in IT 2006 Awards see social activities as vital in building team spirit among employees

It goes without saying that gainful employment must be in exchange for business value. But it is equally true that to be able to work in pleasant surroundings, with amiable colleagues in an ambience that is not focused entirely on work, helps to win employee loyalty and commitment, and fosters a psychological wellbeing that will serve an employer well.

It is noticeable that these factors are highlighted by all the Best Places to Work contenders.

Although not all IT staff can work in the middle of a nature reserve, like employees at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, some are equally fortunate.

Smart Human Logistics is based in a listed ex-dairy modelled on Marie Antoinette's farm at Versailles, set in the Hertfordshire countryside, with grounds for outdoor working or recreation.

But even normal offices can contribute to staff wellbeing. The IT department at OCS has been redesigned using ergonomic Kinnarps floor planning and furniture to create an effective and comfortable working environment which has boosted team working and communication.

At Greggs, a new office extension gave all IT staff a chance to input their personal space requirements, and the open-plan layout encourages both co-operative working and the team spirit and sense of fun that the company considers essential for high performance.

Similarly, at Welcom Software, an internet caf‚ area encourages and develops interaction between business units as well as a greater sense of corporate teamwork among staff.

Downtime is also recognised as a valuable factor in fostering team spirit. Data Connection has a team morale budget to allow staff to "let off steam" with a combination of smaller events such as lunchtime pub trips and birthday cakes, as well as some larger outings such as clay pigeon shooting, plus the company trip to Crete.

Chelsea Football Club, as might be expected, gives its staff complimentary club membership and discounts on merchandise and hotel rates.

At supermarket group Tesco, the company runs social events for IT staff throughout the year, including quiz nights, family fun days, an annual dinner dance and children's Christmas party.

At OCS, making time for fun is regarded as an important component of team spirit, and one source of fun is the IT department's robotic dog. The mechanical creature, complete with his own IP address, roams the department snapping pictures through his nose-cam and listening in to conversations.

Computer Weekly's Best Places to Work in IT2006 Awards are organised in association with international recruitment services organisation PSD and are sponsored by consultancy Atkins, Barclays Service Operations and recruitment and resourcing firms Capita Resourcing, Madison Black, ReThink Recruitment and Spring Technology.

The shortlist

Final winners of the Best Places to Work in IT 2006 Awards will be selected from the organisations listed below:

Banking and finance

  • Barclays, Service Operations
  • Birmingham Midshires
  • Britannia Building Society
  • Citigroup

Central and local government

  • Companies House
  • City of London
  • Lancashire County Council
  • Land Registry

IT services, including outsource providers

  • Cobweb Solutions
  • ITRM
  • Tessella Support Services

Construction, agriculture and mining

  • Davis Langdon
  • WSP Group

Business services

  • Berwin Leighton Paisner
  • Eaga Partnership
  • OCS Group

Manufacturing and engineering

  • Atkins
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • PepsiCo UK
  • Procter & Gamble

Other public/non-profit sector

  • Legal Services Commission
  • London Business School
  • Nominet UK
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

IT software  and  hardware

  • Compuware
  • Data Connection
  • Smart Human Logistics
  • Welcom Software

Retail, wholesale and distribution

  • Greggs (head office IT)
  • Past Times
  • Tesco Stores

Media, hospitality, entertainment and leisure

  • Chelsea Football Club
  • Yell

Utilities and communications

  • Judges' special award to be announced.


The judging panel

The members of the judging panel for Best Places to Work in IT2006 combine the best of business, IT and employment expertise. They include:

British Computer Society

The BCS provides service and support to the IT community, including IT practitioners and employers of IT practitioners. It also acts to generate public awareness and appreciation of the associated social and economic benefits of IT. The BCS was formed to establish and maintain appropriate standards of education and experience for people working in IT or studying to enter the profession.

IBM Computer Users Association

The IBMCUA is an independent organisation that arranges briefings on topical business-related IT subjects for IT managers and directors. The objective of each event is to provide attendees with information that can be used in their organisation to realise real benefits. Subjects range from the value of specific technologies to the business and how to deal with the latest issues to technical education for IBM iSeries users.

The Corporate IT Forum (Tif)

Tif is a subscriber organisation representing the corporate IT user community. Members, which come from some of the UK's largest blue chip organisations, work together to find practical solutions to everyday issues facing corporate IT, from technical architecture to policy and managing supplier relationships.

Centre of Computing & Social Responsibility

The CCSR is an academic body that carries out research and provides teaching, consultancy and advice to individuals, communities, organisations and governments at local, national and international levels on the actual and potential impact of computing and related technologies on society and citizens.

Institute of Directors

The Institute of Directors provides a professional network that reaches into every corner of the business community. Its global membership spans the spectrum of business leadership, from the largest public companies to the smallest private firms.

UK Oracle User Group

The UKOUG is an independent organisation dedicated to informing and educating Oracle users about Oracle products and services. It provides a forum where users can exchange experiences and influence Oracle management teams.

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