Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Employee Reviews about "flexible working"

Updated 26 May 2020

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3.3
54%
Recommend to a Friend
80%
Approve of CEO
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Chief Executive   Gary Aitkenhead (no image)
Gary Aitkenhead
43 Ratings
Pros
  • "Flexible working hours excellent pensions on-site gyms(in 39 reviews)

  • "Stimulating, endlessly interesting work at the cutting edge of science(in 37 reviews)

Cons
  • "Very 'civil service', employees who have been there a long time can be a bit cynical/jaded(in 22 reviews)

  • "It is a part of the MOD so you can't talk about what you do with many people other than your colleagues(in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons
Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

Reviews about "flexible working"

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  1. "Great for early career"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Sevenoaks, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Variety in projects Flexible working High impact

    Cons

    Good for early career but progression is too rigid

  2. "Great Family Friendly company"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Human Resources 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Flexible working Good development of staff Progression Opportunities

    Cons

    Process driven Initiatives don't always connect

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  3. "One of the best summers I've had"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Summer Placement Student in Porton, England
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory for less than a year

    Pros

    I really enjoyed my time at DSTL, my line manager was incredibly supportive as were the rest of my team and I was encouraged to push myself and learn new things without feeling too overwhelmed by everything. I also formed a great relationship with the other summer students who are now some of my best friends. Would definitely recommend doing a summer placement here if you're looking for a way to gain technical experience and make a difference in the scientific community whilst still being able to have fun and flexible working hours.

    Cons

    They have smart working across the offices so when it is particularly busy it can be difficult to find a desk and some people get very attached to certain desks and areas of the office.

  4. "Interesting work and flexible working hours but poor pay"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Industrial Placement Student 
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory for less than a year

    Pros

    very flexible working hours, easy to work from home if needed, stress free.

    Cons

    felt undervalued because of the pay.

  5. "Fond memories"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Trainjng Manager 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Truly flexible working Incredibly passionate colleagues The work is valuable

    Cons

    Progression process does not work for everyone, it is very much how you play the game not just recognition for the work.

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  6. Helpful (21)

    "Was great once, going downhill fast!"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Undisclosed in Sevenoaks, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    Flexible working, colleagues are great to work with and many are considered friends. Interesting work and customers. Once upon a time it was a great place to work. Have got a lot of good career experience going towards finding new jobs - thank you!

    Cons

    Poor management who are admin vortex where issues are raised and nothing seems to happen and they are very poor at communicating. Management disregard for their responsibilities and only want to get involved with jobs/tasks that will better their personal work empire building. If your face doesn't fit you will be on a constant uphill struggle to get anywhere or get anything done, with any leadership support. have had a very varied career but limited promotions due to management glass ceiling for promotions one minute saying one should go for promotion then withdrawing their support. Senior Leadership Team have forgot about Fort Halstead! Lots of empire building with certain individuals. A lot of new staff get away with refusing to do certain tasks and when raised with management nothing changes and makes others jobs difficult.

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  7. Helpful (18)

    "Must avoid - ineptitude at all levels and highly toxic workplace"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Project Manager in Sevenoaks, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    -Some work is interesting. -Can get away with doing no work and almost impossible to get fired - Very flexible working

    Cons

    -Terrible pay. -Management that does not deal with harassment, staff not doing their work, and management that tries to keep everyone on the lowest pay possible and provides no support. -High turnover of management and staff -Constant loss of expertise with no one to replace them (as contingency planning does not exist, nor does the concept of staff retention). -Extremely poor onsite facilities (one of the sites does not even have a canteen). -A lot of "old men with old ideas" leading projects. - Unable to recruit new staff due to working conditions being so poor and due to such an uncompetitive salary. - Little to no training provided. - No value placed on accreditation (STEM accreditation is optional and difficult to obtain, and there is no PM qualification followed by Dstl).

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  8. Helpful (22)

    "Recommendation depends on so many factors"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Engineer in Salisbury, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Flexible working Benefits (except pay) Location Some colleagues Dstl can be a good place to work but you need to be after very specific things for that to be the case, and be lucky enough to drop into a work area that can facilitate those things. For scientists working in the chembio area I’m sure it’s probably one of the more exciting places you could work, and the organisation provides a critical national capability in this area. The site is quite pleasant and the benefits of being out of a city can’t be understated, as long as you can get there. At dstl I’ve genuinely worked with some of the most talented and dedicated people I’ve come across in my career. There are, albeit in my view not enough, some incredibly passionate, skilled and experienced people working for dstl and if you are lucky enough to work with them then it can be truly rewarding. Some people really are making a difference to this country, although the organisation is poor at talking about it in public and maintaining its image (there is seemingly a constant fight in national press coverage between mentioning Dstl or just saying MoD scientists). Benefits are typical of the civil service (the pension is excellent, but you’ve got the unknown political influence that means it isn’t as set in stone as you’d like) and the commitment to flexible working (hours and from home) is excellent and generally well managed (I.e crack on as long as you are getting the job done). Pay is poor. Not unique for the civil service but it is uniquely so here. For whatever reason the pay system is unified across admin and S&T staff unlike other organisations - this means that and PA can be paid the same as a graduate engineer, despite the latter being much more valuable in terms of skills and delivery of organisational purpose. Within S&T they have also been unable to bring in specialist skill pay despite partners elsewhere in government being able to make this case for similar roles. Overall, you might get lucky and end up working with some great people on interesting work. But the problems start when that doesn’t happen - which is more likely. It’s tough to recommend somewhere where your satisfaction depends purely on luck.

    Cons

    Some colleagues Pay Your enjoyment will vary As a counterpoint to above, I’ve sadly also worked with some of the worst people here. It’s really difficult to say what the balance is but there is a lot of chaff in the organisation and you are likely to have to endure it regardless of otherwise how good some people can be. Some of it is purely down to a lack of appropriate capability at the right level and the organisation struggles to deal with this. There is a lot of people cruising just enough to stay off of anyone’s radar but that ends up with there being a lot of, relatively misplaced, dependency on quite a few supposed experts who aren’t that interested, talented or just have out of date knowledge. Also people related, but because of the lack of a single mission focus there can be quite a vitriolic atmosphere between different divisions and is something that particularly manifests itself on the internal social network. Everyone is pulling in different directions and trying to tie that all together into a cohesive whole has something that the organisation has long struggled with. The major major gripe, that will entirely depending on your skills and job, is technology infrastructure. There has been woeful investment in IT for a number of years which is now causing major issues with delivery of technology heavy projects. This has been exacerbated by a number of poor decisions on infrastructure that were not correct at the time they were made, but have been persisted with due to sunk costs. There is a lot of blame to go around but it falls mostly with the organisation rather than its strategic supplier. Very few of the staff involved in corporate technology have the requisite knowledge and/or experience to be running the function - either this is lack of commercial IT experience/expertise and/or understanding of the S&T business. Corporate policy’s force you down the managed route but the IT function has little motivation nor desire to treat the S&T business like a real customer and service it’s demands. Even if they wanted to, which I genuinely don’t believe, there isn’t enough money anyway. Words like internal cloud will be bounced around at interview but set expectations to minimum, it’s a poorly delivered virtual desktop environment that is so constrained to be near useless. And despite hawking that it’s met the rules at the time, those have changed (dramatically) but the solution hasn’t. Public cloud is a distant dream (even though it’s government policy). Modern, state of the art it isn’t. Vast amount of staff time is spent fighting this system (people, process and technology) rather than doing real work - it’s a shame because a more forward leaning and less risk adverse management could make significant changes here but the costs would be astronomical and it’s difficult to see a route out of the quagmire it’s in. A lot of the seniors within corporate IT would challenge this assessment, but it’s completely true, and they are the problem - without fundamental change in people and policy then the technology estate will remain stuck in the dark ages. To add insults to injury - you’ll probably be involved in contracting out interesting work to commercial suppliers who don’t have the same restrictions and are free to use lots of modern technologies - talk about kicking you while you’re down! Progression is good to a point, but beyond that technical career progression becomes hard and is an element of luck, dead mans shoes and ability to get involved in high profile work. After 0900 it’s impossible to get a desk with screens, keyboard and mouse so are relegated to sitting at a breakout desk all day staring down at a laptop screen (quite how this doesn’t breach H&S law I’m not sure). And good luck parking.

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  9. Helpful (19)

    "Frustrating"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Scientist 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Flexible working, some potential to engage with a lot of interesting science and technology. Some good procurement mechanisms by the standards of the public sector. Free milk at Porton.

    Cons

    Communication within Dstl is poor, generally very slow, somewhat ambiguous and sometimes rude. Very risk-averse culture, with a lot of management layers, some of which like to micro-manage, which makes it very slow to achieve (external) delivery objectives - as a result many objectives are simply internal hurdles which need to be jumped, leaving little time for more satisfying work. Pay is significantly worse than the rest of the civil service, with some grades receiving a third less than equivalent roles in MOD and other departments. Parking and desk space can be difficult to secure at Porton Down.

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  10. Helpful (21)

    "Making a difference? The pay doesn't reflect it"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Flexible working, paid subscriptions to professional organisations, decent amount of annual leave.

    Cons

    It's often said that by working at Dstl you'll make a difference. If that were the case we wouldn't effectively be taking a pay cut year on year. Despite the weasel words from politicians and senior leadership about how crucial we are, we are constantly denied reasonable compensation, and it will never change. There are certain senior personnel who seem to have spent decades belittling and bullying more junior staff, and despite being reported several times, nothing is ever done. In fact, in my own experience I was the one who was punished after reporting it, despite corroborating evidence and witnesses. There is so much injustice and it is infuriating.

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