Institutions and companies

Desmond King-Hele at former RAE Farnborough, 2011
Desmond King-Hele at former RAE Farnborough, 2011

Most British scientists worked within large or medium sized companies, research organisations or universities, each of which had its own character and organisational structures that they had to negotiate in their working lives. Some workplaces were characterised by rigid routines and hierarchies while others appeared more relaxed and informal, although such perceptions might depend on whether the person recalling them was the boss or one of the junior members of staff. Tea rooms were frequently the place where important ideas were exchanged and tea breaks a valued part of the working day. Elsewhere secrecy and security played a part in shaping workplace culture and could offer unexpected opportunities. The unique physical environment of individual research organisations from wood panelled offices, to large solid brick buildings to strange looking towers shapedthe working lives of those who inhabited them and could have a significant impact on productivity when conditions became uncomfortable. While most scientists, even the most senior, were part of organisations that they had not themselves shaped, a few, such as Martin and Audrey Wood and Stephanie Shirley set up their own companies and worked long hours in challenging conditions to achieve success.

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