What are the pros and cons of being a FIFO worker?

FIFO

Working a fly-in fly-out roster isn't for everyone. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a FIFO lifestyle?

Working a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) roster isn’t for everyone. It’s a very particular lifestyle — and it’s not suited to everybody.

Before applying for a FIFO role, it’s a good idea to think closely about whether the FIFO lifestyle is a good fit for your circumstances.

Rosters, for instance, range from eight days on with six days off (8/6) to shift splits like 9/5, 14/7, 14/14 or even four weeks on, one week off.

But, rosters aside, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the FIFO lifestyle.

What are the advantages of the FIFO life?

  • The “rest and relaxation” (R&R) period — your “off” time — gives you enough time to fully recover from the long hours and shift work.
  • Your home and work life are completely separate (you’re certainly not taking your work home with you!)
  • There’s a good opportunity to spend quality time with your family when you’re home on R&R.
  • With some rosters and leave entitlements, taking an R&R term with annual leave can provide two lots of three-week-long holiday periods a year — which many FIFO workers use for international travel.
  • While you’re on site the only thing you have to do aside from work is your personal laundry.
  • If you’re single, you’re not spending as much money while on site as you would while you’re at home, so there is the possibility of establishing more savings.
  • The wide range of facilities on most sites is of a high standard and generally you would not have a similar range so close to your own home.
  • The friends you make on site usually become friends for life, as you do form friendships quicker when living and working with the same people.
  • The opportunity to learn about other roles in mining is easier as you meet other employees in different departments and sometimes different companies.

 What are the disadvantages of the FIFO life?

  • Family and friends do not always have a good idea of what it is like to live in a small mining camp. They don’t necessarily understand what it’s like or what you’re experiencing.
  • You’re highly likely to miss significant events back at home, like birthdays, concerts and sporting events.
  • If you’re in a relationship it can cause issues, as one partner can feel as if they are running the household as a single person or single parent.
  • The hours and the rosters can be long and tiring.
  • Some people feel constrained by the camp lifestyle, as some are almost prisonlike in their layout (see the main picture).
  • When new to site, it can be a challenge to get to know people — especially on a large site
  • There is often a lack of variety for meal options, as some places may have just two or three main meals each night.
  • Many people in the recent downturn did not think the boom would end and did not plan for the future. For most people the FIFO lifestyle will not last forever.