How a team focused on 185 million years of history can benefit from a modern system.

If you could work anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Perhaps you’d be drawn to the bustling action of city life in London or maybe you’d enjoy something a bit quieter like a sleepy settlement in rural Italy, where a wonderful smell of fresh coffee clings to the breeze.

How about a stunning coastline which is not just a beautiful place to go for a walk but a living, evolving World Heritage Site that presents us with 185 million years of history?

Welcome to the Jurassic Coast.

Life finds a way

Time for a quick history lesson. Stretching for 95 miles along Dorset and East Devon in south-east England, the coastline is named after the Jurassic Period which transformed the deserts of the preceding Triassic Period into a tropical sea thanks to rising sea levels. Then came the Cretaceous Period, in which sea levels receded and forests grew, only for the seas to rise again. All three of these important chapters in our planet’s history are exhibited in the rock formations of the Jurassic Coast, which have been — and are being — carved away by the relentless force of nature.

Erosion in action on the cliffs of Portland.

So, who looks after a site of such magnificence? That’ll be the Jurassic Coast Trust, which was set up shortly after the location was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2001. A small charity with a big responsibility, the Trust has just nine members of staff but 50 active volunteers and ambassadors, and it's now celebrating two years of being fully responsible for the site's protection and conservation.

“We are needed to ensure that the site maintains its World Heritage status and is protected for everyone to enjoy, now and into the future,” says Guy Kerr, the Trust’s Programme Manager for Engagement and Partnerships. Guy works with the museums and visitor centres dotted along the coast to make sure they keep doing a great job of informing and engaging the public. He also looks after a bunch of highly motivated volunteers who work to raise awareness of the site and ongoing conservation efforts.

Geoff, one of the Trust's ambassadors, is ready to tell you all about these fossils.

More than just a nice place

Being a World Heritage Site is no small feat. To gain this title, the site must have ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ (OUV). Guy says:

“This is what differentiates them from just being nice places and makes them unique."

“The Jurassic Coast's OUV is based on rocks, fossils and landforms, all of which are of sufficient quality and uniqueness to be labelled globally outstanding.”

Globally outstanding. You can almost taste the prestige when you say those words.

The Jurassic Coast Trust team are based in Bridport, a market town in Dorset. “It’s a great, small team,” Guy says, “with a lot of creative people and a good atmosphere with a lot of ideas being discussed”.

But what do they actually do?

“We look out for anything that might affect the Site's OUV — this includes developments that may hinder the natural erosion of the coast such as coastal defences or other building works. We also work to conserve the fossils and make sure they're collected responsibly, legally and with the correct protocols in place,” says Guy.

There's no shortage of ammonites at the Jurassic Coast.

Treasure hunt

Fossils are a big deal at the Jurassic Coast. A few years back, hundreds of people flocked to Charmouth beach after a landslide to ‘comb’ the area for newly unearthed treasures.

An epic collection of fossils in the Trust’s office also helps get the team’s creative juices flowing.

Guy says his favourite fossil in their collection is known as the “bone of contention”. “It either belongs to a pliosaur or a dinosaur,” he says, “and was discovered in Weymouth Bay. It dates back to the Jurassic period and is a massive vertebrae. It's brilliant for taking to festivals and asking kids to compare its size to that of their own vertebrae, in order to imagine its colossal nature.”

The 'bone of contention'

A complicated arrangement

Similarly colossal was the administrative burden of managing annual leave in the team a few years ago. Guy says: “Our holiday bookings used to be managed by both the council’s system and another person as we had two different organisations. It was all very complicated and people often didn’t know how much holiday they had left or who was away when.”

Guy says the old system was fine for a couple of people, but wasn’t suitable when the rest of the team was factored in — prompting the move to Timetastic.

“It’s been a great addition to our office setup,” Guy says. “Ideal for general holiday bookings and planning for the year around staff absences, and it saves us a lot of time for sure."

"It also takes away the stress of not knowing when to plan meetings because you don’t know when people are away.”

Well, that sounds much better. Only one question remains — would Guy recommend Timetastic to someone considering it?

“Go for it, it's really useful for managing a team.”