Open and close mobile menu


Insights How an acoustician with HSP thrives while shaping inclusive policy.

Meet Adam, an associate acoustician who ensures our transport and infrastructure projects meet the highest industry standards. Collaborating in a talented team, he creates functional yet enjoyable environments that minimize noise impact. Adam also has Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). As chairman of the HSP Support Group, his work helps support its members and raise awareness of the condition.

Photo of Rebecca smiling towards the camera

In this blog, #InsideAtkinsRéalis explores Adam's perspective on shaping an inclusive workplace and thriving in his career with HSP.

Hello Adam, please tell us more about your condition and the HSP Support Group charity.

HSP is a broad term for a group of rare inherited disorders that cause leg weakness and stiffness and slowly get worse over time. There's a spectrum of symptoms, which is different for everyone. These include pain, fatigue, bladder problems, and hearing, vision, and mobility issues. I had been living with HSP for six years when I joined the support group in 2015. Two years later, I was elected chairman. We're a friendly group of about 400 people with HSP, and we help our members with local meetings, keeping on top of research and grants.

How have AtkinsRéalis' flexible working policies supported your needs?

In the last year or two, I have realized that the flexible working request I put in to cope with after-school childcare now helps me manage my fatigue. My motivation for working from home has also transitioned from looking after the kids to managing my symptoms. As my condition evolves over time, I expect to reduce my working hours to allow me to balance my fatigue with my work and life.

What significant changes have you observed at AtkinsRéalis that have improved work life for employees?

The first was establishing Enable, our employee resource and advocacy group centered on disability and health conditions. The people running it have put in lots of hard work into spreading awareness of disabilities and health conditions, resulting in less stigma for anyone discussing them in the workplace. A more recent change is our new reasonable adjustments policy, which has helped people seeking support to consider their situation holistically. Now, employees can access these through one route rather than needing a separate route and approval for each type of adjustment they need.

The inclusive policy changes at AtkinsRéalis have had real impacts, benefitting all employees, not just those with disabilities and progressive conditions."
—Adam, Associate Acoustician, Transportation and Infrastructure

How do you manage the challenges of your role in acoustics alongside your HSP condition?

I'm quite lucky that my symptoms didn't appear earlier in life. Some of the visits and noise surveys I enjoyed earlier in my career are no longer possible - particularly where ladders are involved. These days, I can share my skills with colleagues and help them gain these experiences.

Working from home through Covid normalized not being in the office all the time, which has helped me be present at work when leaving the house is more difficult. The two main strategies I use are planning my working week such that I work fewer hours per day later in the week and making sure I schedule my transport mode and time when traveling to make sure that I don't have to rush and that I don't get fatigued.

Which tools or innovations at AtkinsRéalis have been crucial for you?

The main tools that benefit me are using Teams for meetings and calls and the ability to log in and work anywhere. The reduced burden of travel is the biggest gain from both of these. As I get older, as my eyesight, hearing, and manual dexterity decrease, using closed captions, dictation, and voice control will likely be more beneficial to me. Once my mobility reduces further, I will have to explore other types of technology to aid my day-to-day life. I'll update you once I know what those are.

How have your personal experiences and advocacy influenced the development of policies at AtkinsRéalis?

All the employee resource groups have been involved with policy review, and I have been part of the team looking at policies on behalf of Enable. I know that our inputs have directly impacted the reviews, particularly around how things have been described or from querying the underlying assumptions about people's expectations when using the policies. Enable has been a key contributor to the reasonable adjustments, flexible working, and sickness absence policies.

What are you looking forward to at work?

I'm really interested to see how the broader conversations around disability and health conditions influence the approach we use for projects. We've made some great steps with our inclusive design team. Ultimately, I'd like disability and health conditions to be a key consideration in the design of everything we do. Around one in six people across the world experience significant disability, so it makes sense to include those people in our designs.

Find a role with us today and help make our projects more accessible to the broadest cross-section of our communities.