Chapter 14: Long-distance commuting 'FIFO' families: the work-family interface
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The globalisation of industries means that Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) is a viable option for more than regional roles. International FIFO work has the potential to exacerbate work- family conflict (WFC) where the demands between roles at work and home can lead to a reduction in available resources and a consequent increase in stress. The partnership required to parent children and run a household can be compromised by distance resulting in diminished relationship quality. We surveyed (predominantly) Australian participants who either worked FIFO or had a partner working FIFO, alongside those who were not involved in FIFO work. FIFO partners reported their partner’s days off and perceived help with parenting were significantly and negatively related to perceived WFC. FIFO roster choice was also perceived to help reduce WFC. Varying family structures, roles and needs lead to a complex work-family interface. However, FIFO is not consistently negative, with some positive spillover into non-work life. Longitudinal research is needed that draws on strong theoretical frameworks, such as family-systems theory, in order to better understand the nuanced inter-relationships between work and family. In doing so, organisations and families would be better positioned to appreciate the risks and benefits associated with FIFO work and how best to manage them.

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