Tools to help you stay connected on your swing

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There are many tech solutions to help you stay connected during your swing

Six of the best online tools for staying connected with friends and family while you're FIFO

Tools to help you stay connected on your swing

When you're employed in the mining industry in Australia and work away, you are separated from the people who are important in your life. Loneliness can hit, especially when you miss family events, or in the run-up to holidays such as Christmas.

Luckily, technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and there are plenty of apps and software that make keeping in touch a whole lot easier. Here are the best tools to keep the lines of communication open.

Skype and FaceTime

This is the closest thing to face-to-face contact. As long as you’ve got a WIFI connection, you can see each other and talk in real time. Skype and FaceTime are especially good for live 'family' chats, where you've got a group of people wanting to communicate and see each other at the same time. Free and simple, it's one of the most popular ways to keep in touch.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is perfect for group chats. Whether it's with family or a group of friends, it means you're all involved in the online conversation, all the time. You can send and receive pictures, gifs and voice files, and the best part is, there's usually someone posting messages so you'll often have messages to wake up to. This helps to really keep people feeling connected on a regular basis, with all the ins and outs of day-to-day life.

Videos and voice files

You don't need special apps to create a video or a voice file on your phone. If you're missing a special event, you can record a message to be played before, at, or after it. Whether it's your child's sports day, a birthday, or a wedding, a personalised message can go a long way to remind those you love that you're thinking about them. It's also a good way to keep in touch if your working hours don't mesh with your kids' bedtimes or partner's job. Sending them a personalised message is comforting and gives them richer, more meaningful contact that they can replay whenever they like.

Family organiser apps

These might seem a bit mundane, but family organiser apps such as Cozi can help keep you in the loop with your family's everyday life. There are shared reminders about events, schedules and even grocery shopping lists. You'll keep up to date on dentist appointments, school assemblies and parents' evenings, playdates, and everything in between.

Online and app games

These aren't just for playing solo when you've got downtime. There are dozens that involve multiple users and can be played in real time. So whether you're connecting with children or friends, there will be something out there you can share. Top ones include Angry Birds Friends, Trivia Crack, Words with Friends, and Draw Something, but checking Play or the App store will also turn up some gems.

Podcasts

If you share an interest with someone you'll miss, why not find a related podcast you can both listen to? You can arrange to both listen to the same episode and have a phone call the next day to talk about it. It might sound simple, but it's a good way to have a conversation that doesn't feel like either of you are missing out on what the other has been doing. It also gives you a common topic to chat about when you come back home.

Of course, 'old-school' communication tools such as text, email and sending letters will always be a good way of keeping in touch. But to stay connected when you're working away from friends and family, it's important to think outside the box. Technology has much to offer to help maintain those important relationships.

Join the online Mining People International community for tips on staying in touch while you’re FIFO.

Lindsay McPhee
Mining People International