FIFO families are also ‘Skype-families’.
The internet and mobile phone connections in larger camps make it easy and cheap to stay in touch.
In smaller exploration camps satellite phones are available; but, usually used only in emergencies or for business calls. This makes private calls expensive.
When the Internet breaks down or is running slow, it interrupts life at the camp. Connecting to the world outside is essential for most of the employees and disruptions to Internet service can create tensions.
Staying in touch is crucial for upholding relationships with friends and family back home and important for a fulfilling social life.
Just a short call to one’s partner and kids keeps the relationship stable and makes sure that spouses know what is going on in each other’s lives.
Ben, a mechanic, explains that it is important not to fight over the phone, “it will leave both partners feeling miserable.”
Regular communication from the mine site to the home helps family members stay connected and allows workers to keep track of what is going on at home. On the one hand, when there are major household decisions to be made, such as buying a car or doing major repairs, it makes sense to communicate a lot. Or even if it is an event like a baseball game where you can cheer with the kids.
On the other hand, solving troubles at home over the phone might be less feasible and one has to get used to the fact that he or she cannot be involved in all the everyday business at home.
Barry explains, “I do not call home every day. I do not want to get too much involved in the little things that occur at home. The time in the camp is when I concentrate on my job and on earning money. I have a 12-hours shift and I am so tired afterwards that I do not want to deal with things back home I cannot change anyway.”
Also for single workers it is essential to connect with friends back home and to keep up social bonds.
A certain balance should be achieved to stay in touch while not being too involved in business at home.
In earlier times it was much more difficult to stay connected. I remember not having internet and the phone-lines were just too weak. Today, I can catch up with home almost always when I want. Boris
Sometimes when there is a big decision you need to catch up of course, but I try focus on my work when I’m out here. Barry
I must leave all behind. Like we are buying a condo now and my girlfriend has to figure out everything by herself. We can catch up on the internet, I submit my documents and stuff this way. This works out. If I think that she has to do this all by herself, it’s a big burden! David
I am connected on Facebook and can follow the things going on in town, but at the same time I am happy not to know too much and not knowing what I am missing out on a Saturday night. It makes being in camp easier, you know. Jerry
Really, really important: stay connected. Keep the communication lines open is number one. But stay focused at work. Don´t think too much about home. I mean before you make that decision to go into mobile shift work, if it is something new for a relationship, really try to get as much information as you can. Brenda