Overcoming the challenges of working remotely on rotations

In the last couple of years there has been a lot of attention on our valued remote workers because of the challenging work-related conditions they have been enduring, even more so during this Pandemic. A sample of these challenges includes the difficulty of entering or exiting countries or some remote regions and getting full end-to-end travel reservations (air and land), due to reduced or cancelled schedules.

People working in remote locations have been highly impacted by the challenges of the pandemic

One of the most impacted groups are Marine Workers – or Seafarers – who have been stranded on ships around the globe and unable to get home. Freighters carrying valuable bulk, energy or container loads are in exceedingly high demand due to the supply logistics demand. This event has further increased the pressure on skilled seafarers and is a key driver to also request longer work tours.

Similarly, many on-shore and off-shore workers in the Mining, Construction or Energy sectors have had to adapt and accept frequent Covid testing – many times for a single rotation, extended hours, tougher camp conditions/restrictions and endured difficult commutes due to reduced air travel capacity. Charter aircraft (FIFO) have been in such high demand that buses (BIBO) have even been used (with reduced seating due to spacing) to supplement air travel.      

The scarcity of skilled workers on the market pushes companies to find ways to retain their workforce

Working remotely is already challenging in normal times. Today, corporate goals are to have happier and more productive workers who are healthy both physically and mentally. To achieve this, companies and the logistics supply chain (Camps to Bus, Air Operators and Travel Agencies) are working hard to exceed worker expectations.

With the scarcity of skilled workers, companies are investing great efforts to reduce turnover. This HR shortfall is just too disruptive on all operations and becoming too expensive in the recruitment and onboarding cycle. The competition is also making it longer to find skilled workers. All stakeholders are investing more in a variety of attributes of improvement, where it is feasible and possible.

Skilled workers choose a company for its values, culture, and differentiation

Workers exploring new jobs are evaluating everything from the company values and the culture, to how a worker is treated from the time of scheduling work rotations. And, of course, the way companies deal with Covid compliance is now essential. New Human Resource applications inviting workers to testify online of their remote work experiences are becoming more popular.

Differentiation becomes the deal breaker, be it a Starbucks / Tim Hortons on site to permanent rooms and healthier food options. Some distinctive features at camp or lodge are now to have top-notch recreation facilities – gyms, a movie theatre, a snack shop, strong Internet connectivity, a pool, bowling lanes.

Health, Safety and Security are also paramount, not only on the job but also in camp. Entry access control at facilities, electronic door locks, video surveillance, separation of rooms or modules by gender are examples of some of the security practices of modern camp properties. Frequent and thorough cleaning and sanitation are also practices that were further reinforced during the pandemic.

Not to be forgotten: the importance of being able to schedule work / leave time in advance

Workers are also eager to plan out their work and home life schedules weeks or months in advance. In addition, their families want to plan events too. So robust workforce scheduling that includes vacation, training, and other events for a year is the norm.

While companies endeavor to have “boots on the ground on arrival,” workers are equally motivated to get home as quick as possible. The earlier one can rotate home, the quicker “your leave” starts.  And the happier the worker and family are.

Workers also expect a seamless and stress-free travel itinerary from their flights or bus schedules to camp room and back. In addition, companies add safety messaging for contact information, weather advisories and other site-specific cautionary details that includes maps/pictures in the itinerary.

The benefits of rotational work

Working on rotations in remote areas doesn’t come without challenges, but let’s not forget the advantages that often exist for these workers: high compensation, tax considerations, up to 6 months off, hobby or second jobs, ample travel to see the world with bigger companies, paid accommodations/food, recreational facilities and many more. It all comes down to the advantages and efforts that companies put into making the workers enjoy a stress-free environment during their rotations and providing visibility for planning on/off time.

What are the differences between an open camp and a closed camp? Here are a few highlights.

 OPEN CAMPCLOSED CAMP
ModelAvailable Accommodations &/or Services to the PublicCompany Owned / Contracted – Leased Services. Private & restricted to Company
TermShort Term / Scalable on demandLong-Term, stable operations such as Mining operations or Oil & Gas production
FeaturesAccommodation, catering & some recreation – some providers differentiate with added services/value.Dedicated rooms, private storage spaces, various facilities and outdoor spaces, gyms, theatre/game rooms, offices and meeting rooms. Higher security controls for access.
CommercialMost services are contracted out locally i.e., camp labor to catering Varied pricing based on services –  Single room to work groups  Most services are contracted out to Camp-Catering Companies with various criteria All costs are absorbed by Company and tracked by multiple cost code (Department to Activity)
LocationUsually convenient by highways or good roads in active resource areas  On the company property, near work sites. Usually remote FIFO but also BIBO-DIDO on private roads.