3 ways FIFO can be flexible (and where to find roles like this)

March 26, 2024
Flexible FIFO roles

If you’re looking to work in, or are already working in, certain industry sectors, you will almost certainly have come across the concept of Fly-In-Fly-Out, often known as FIFO.

These arrangements, used as a means of employment generally in far-flung and/or difficult locations, can be taxing in family life and can impact on personal well-being.

Traditionally, FIFO roles are not noted for their flexibility.

AngloGold Ashanti (AGAA) recognizes the value of working with their employees to find solutions to each individual’s needs. In fact, AGAA is working hard to flip the view that FIFO schedules are rigid and incapable of accommodating flexible arrangements.

Jaymie Clark, leads the company’s HR Business Partnering unit and she believes that a manageable work-life balance ensures AGAA employees can be at their best at all times.

“When our people show up to work, we want them to do so feeling supported and well equipped, mentally, and physically, so that they can bring their best self, and whole self, to work.

“We recognize that everyone has a unique set of circumstances that change throughout their lifetime, so it is important that our leaders and team members can have productive conversations about flexible working arrangements.”

Here’s how a few of AGAA’s workers with FIFO components in their schedules are making the most of this refreshing attitude.

FIFO and the chance for flexibility after parental leave

A few years ago, Environmental Advisor Lorretta Szczygielski knew everything was about to change. She needed her employers at AGAA to adapt. 

loretta AGAA

“After falling pregnant and then having a baby in late 2021, it was clear to my partner and I that we needed to get back to the East Coast to be with our community,” she tells us. 

Conversations with management and work colleagues were “very open” and these led to a solution about what Lorretta thought could be done from home as well as what sort of project work could be done. 

“In reality,” she says, “the role has been very fluid”. 

“There are times when I am working on reporting or on data entry or procedures or just on daily tasks, and other times it’s project-based work that requires a level of focus that is hard to achieve on-site.”

Her schedule has settled, after a few variations, into three days a week, on an 8am-4pm shift. 

“These hours work really well as it means I can drop my son at daycare around 6:30am and have a coffee, go for a walk, and maybe put a load of washing on before I start work.”  

The balance between work and home life has had its challenges, admits Lorretta, but there is still plenty of wriggle room in her scheduling to accommodate it all.

Flexible FIFO roles

“It feels like every second week I have had to swap a working day either due to sickness or appointments with baby number two on the way. But, my manager has never questioned me for swapping a day or for sick days or carers leave. It is incredibly refreshing to know that your team always has your back.”

See how workplace flexibility at AGAA can help you achieve work/life balance in your career. 

Learn more here. 

A job-shared FIFO role is possible

For Exploration Technician Dop Viljoen, approaching the end of his working career has meant he requires a work schedule that suits where he is at right now. 

Flexible FIFO roles

“I’m 68 now, and while I’m looking to retire in the near future,  I don’t want to suddenly stop working,” he explains. 

He proposed a part-time work arrangement and, after discussions with section leaders, was able to move to a job-sharing role with another technician. This means Dop now works an eight-days on, 20-days off roster.

“This way I can ease into retirement in a staged manner, rather than stopping work all at once.

“I have found this roster is easier on me physically. I don’t feel as exhausted and I can get rested on my days off.” 

He is also happy he can still go out to the exploration camps and to work regionally, which he enjoys doing.

Among the added benefits of this roster are that he still gets employee health care for himself and his family and he continues to accrue his leave entitlements.

“I would like to continue this for the next few years,” he says. 

FIFO and remote work, can work!

Shonagh Walker believes she has the best work arrangement imaginable. 

Currently, she works 66% of her role remotely and 33% onsite and it’s a highly adaptable work model.

“My roster is two weeks of five days on, two days off with both ‘weeks’ being done remotely from home, which is in Australia’s east, some five hours flying time away from my work.

“Then, every third week I shift into a FIFO mode, doing four days on, three days off.” 

She says the flexibility in this arrangement, with a regular FIFO component built onto a remote setup, is very rare for her role as a Superintendent in Geotechnical Services.

Flexible FIFO roles

“It’s great to be offered the trust to try this out. And I think it shows the real innovative spirit of the company. Being able to work a FIFO flexible roster has allowed me to continue working in an operations role whilst having a young family and taking on a leadership position,” she explains. 

She tells us she feels incredibly fortunate that the company has been able to apply its commitment to flexibility so fully to fit her lifestyle. 

“There aren’t many (or maybe any) other places that offer roles or arrangements like this, unless you’re looking to work away from home permanently, or to live in a small regional town.”

Shonagh says this arrangement has changed her world. 

“Previously I was having to take roles based in Melbourne because I couldn’t see another option. FIFO roles are just not usually offered on remote working rosters.

“If I didn’t have this flexibility, I couldn’t have taken the next step up in my career.

“Here, management doesn’t just talk the talk on flexible work – they walk it. Look at my roster as proof!”

Want to learn more about the benefits of a career at AngloGold Ashanti Australia?

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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