FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) is a popular working arrangement in the mining, construction, and oil and gas industries. FIFO work is becoming a viable option to bring construction and mining employees to remote areas rich in natural resources.
Chefs are needed for such conditions since working locations typically do not have nearby food establishments that typical employees can go to for breaks. And after a long working day, a hot meal is an essential comfort that workers look forward to.
In addition to posting hiring ads, many employers seek out chef staffing agencies to hire chefs for FIFO jobs. But it is not easy to get chef/cook applicants for these jobs due to the additional stressful nature. This is why many employers offer excellent salaries.
Though the Chef’s pay is excellent in FIFO jobs, many of those who have worked in these conditions (or still are) speak of some different demands that this working arrangement asks.
Below are some insights on the FIFO life, should this interest you.
The Schedule of work
In the FIFO world, the roster, also known as “swing”, identifies the number of shifts a chef will be working. Different sites have different rosters. Some may have longer-term rosters such as one=month on, one month off on 12-hour shifts. Expect a combination of day and night shifts.
Examples of FIFO rosters:
- 8 days at work / 6 days home
- 2 weeks at work / 1 week home
- 6 weeks at work / 2 weeks home
- 12 weeks at work / 4 weeks home
Consider the roster that best suits your lifestyle when negotiating your employment contract.
Most FIFO sites are remote and isolated. There may be limited opportunity to go anywhere outside the campsite. Most villages have amenities for comfortable living, albeit basic and compact.
Because you are flown in and out, you are not at easy reach by your loved ones and vice versa. Have a plan for emergencies, such as sharing a list of important contact numbers with your family. Clarify with loved ones that since you might be working at an isolated site, you may not be able to come home immediately.
RELATED READ: Your Quick Guide To Hiring A FIFO Chef
Caring for Physical Health
You will be expected to work 12-hour shifts, with a combination of days and nights. That frequent change in body clock can work a toll on your body. For some people, it takes two to three swings to adjust to their roster so ensure that you take care of your physical health.
- Eat well following a healthy diet. You need to nourish your body to sustain energy for the long working hours. It can be enjoyable to drink after work to help people wind down. But alcohol should be drunk in moderation as it can cause dehydration and other health issues. Worksites may conduct random alcohol and drug testing, so you must stay clean and healthy. Drink alcohol responsibly, as you need to work in good coherence and alertness.
- Get plenty of sleep or make time to relax by reading, doing artwork or other relaxing quiet hobbies.
- Exercise for your physical health and to improve your mood. Employers often organise recreational activities for employees to take part in. Participate if you can.
Caring For Mental Health
FIFO work tests your mental strength in many ways, which are hard to comprehend until you’re immersed.
Unfortunately, mental health problems and relationship breakdowns are too common in the FIFO world. The strain as a result of the long-distance relationships with families and loved ones are not healthy,
While campaigns for more family-friendly rosters are gathering more momentum, it still may not be enough for some.
Dealing with isolation from loved ones is a personal matter. There is no one guaranteed solution, but the following may offer help:
- Reinforce and strengthen relationships by keeping communication honest and open. Stay in regular contact by telephone, email, social media or virtual chats. Let your loved ones know if you are feeling down or having a hard day. Friendships are also forged in working conditions, which can sometimes be a source of comfort if families are not available.
- Surround yourself with memorabilia that make you happy such as photos, trinkets, and favourite items.
- Self-care should not make you feel guilty.
- Socialise with your work colleagues/friends, so you feel less isolated.
- Know beforehand if an employer has a professional assistance program that you can seek out when you start to feel depressed. Or ask how involved Human Resources will be in such situations.
- Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help from co-workers or even your manager.
- When you return home for a break, make some quality time with loved ones. Quality time and communication can help fill up the void when away. Let them know how you feel. If celebrations can be rescheduled when you are home, do so.
FIFO work is different from a typical local job. It is a lifestyle change, not only for you but also for your family. Each FIFO site will have different conditions, allowances, salaries, travel conditions and recreational facilities. And it is a smart move to get all of the details to help you weigh the pros and cons.
Anytime Chefs has a team of professional chefs experienced in FIFO jobs. We are currently supporting some of the best resorts in Western Australia and will continue to do so. If you are looking for a FIFO chef here in Perth or across Western Australia, get in touch with us and let us support you.
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,