This week I have spent a lot of time traveling interstate. This travel has led me to think about the traveling part of the fly in and fly out lifestyle and as I spent hours and hours commuting, waiting for flights, trains and at times being delayed by both I began to look around me to see what everyone was doing with all this “spare” time. For the most part there was a lot of talking on the telephone, working at screens, eating and reading of books. The reading ranged from the daily newspapers at one end to the deep and meaningful books at the other. My own offering was on the deep and meaningful end. I am reading a fascinating study of change written by Australian, Les Robinson. It’s called Changeology: how to enable groups, communities, and societies to do things they’ve never done before. – Worth checking out Les’ blog site about all things change related:
The final leg of my travel was a much delayed flight from Brisbane to Melbourne which had a large contingent of FIFO workers on board. It turns out that I was sitting next to one and for much of the flight home we talked about all things FIFO and the actual travel part. The anecdotal research I present today was as powerful as anything I have read on the subject as it came from a man who has been working the FIFO life for over 20 years.
Working a 28/9 roster building a gas pipeline in remote far north Queensland my companion in the tight Virgin seats was on day 1 of his 9 days off! His day had started at 3am when he woke to board the bus at 4 am for a 3 hour drive into Rockhampton. Once there it was a flight from Rockhampton to Brisbane and then finally a connection on to Melbourne. As we touched down in Melbourne the poor man had been traveling for 10 hours and still had another 1 hour to go before he reached his home!
He was a calm, serene man who was happy to share his story and his insights into the traveling part of the FIFO work/life practice. He had begun his FIFO life in another country that had a 11 month on 1 month off roster and after two years of this life he migrated to Australia with his young family and began to work a much more family friendly roster. Having worked constantly ever since on a average of 28/7-9 roster he’d had many years to workout all aspects of FIFO life to come up with the process or philosophy he said he always followed.
In relation to the travel part of his FIFO job his process was gloriously simple! He said he did nothing! For an average of 10 hours each shift change he said he chose to do nothing but chill out!
He said he just relaxed, dozed now and then and although he agreed that yes it was a long time to be traveling he also thought that the travel time gave him time to unwind, clear out his mind, think about his wife , his son, plan outings for home and think about things this couple of 23 years would do together in the 7 days he got to spend with her. He wasn’t reading, writing notes or eating he was practicing calmness. He was getting himself ready to be open, stress free, available and present for his wife who he said would leave work early to collect him from the airport . He said he liked that she still wanted to collect him and he thought the travel gave him time to free his mind to be ready to be with her and leave everything else behind.
It seems that sometimes doing nothing is more powerful in the long run than doing something.
So what do you or your beloved do to deal with the actual fly in fly out bit? What practices or processes do the FIFO workers you know use to leave the job behind and get ready for home, family and relationship?