Two weeks working, four weeks off Sounds a dream, especially for us used to the five days on and two days off? A quick calculation over the whole year that means you’d end up working for four and a half months and have eight and a half months off. Why would you give it up?
I recently met up with Rodney Garrard who’d just finished 7 years working two weeks on, four weeks off in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Before this he worked internationally for 5 years typically either as 2 weeks on/off or 3 weeks on/off. We met at a bar in the Zürich main station on his commute home from a five day a week job. Previously his commute to work was a series of plane trips and a helicopter ride to remote North Sea oil and gas installations high in the Arctic. As a consultant geologist for the oil companies off the coast of Norway he had a dream work schedule. He was as I describe in my book as having the work-life integration style as a cycler.
Switching Off Completely
“Brilliant” was how Rodney described being a work-life cycler. The best thing being able to completely switch off during the four-week break from work. While he was working on the rig it was intense. On Norwegian installations, offshore tours are limited to two weeks, but it involves 12 hour shifts for 14 days straight and being involved in high consequence decisions in critical timeframes. But once the work was done, it was done. There was no way of taking your work home. Once you heard that helicopter arriving to take you back to shore it was like an `off-switch`, a special feeling knowing you had 4 weeks off. No work-mind drag.
As a keen skier and cyclist I am getting seriously jealous as Rodney tells me about the trips he did during his time off. He wasn’t looking out the office window wishing it was the weekend. And he didn’t just use his time off to play, he also got his PhD thesis written in his down time.
Swapping for a daily commute
Recently Rodney gave it all up for a normal Monday to Friday job. Freely admitting that he is struggling with the daily commute. And rather peeved that he got told he couldn’t use his e-scooter in the main station to make a tight connection to save time. He’s itching in the weekends to maximise his time off, to get out and about, but there are household chores to get done.
Why would he give it all up? The downside of being a cycler is all those things you miss – kid’s birthdays, the end of year school concerts, being there when it really matters. Our meeting was supposed to take place two weeks ago but was postponed as Rodney rushed home when his daughter had a small accident – something he couldn’t have helped with when out on a remote offshore installation in the Arctic. The Power of Moments as Chip and Dan Heath describe it.
Learning from the other Style
Being a cycler might not be possible in your job. But never-the-less we can still learn from the other style. What if you could just leave all your work behind as you left for the day and turn the off switch. The mental relief, time to enjoy the non-work activities and being present (physically and mentally) for the important moments.
Why not start this weekend with switching off from work completely and being present for those moments with you family, friends, sport or other activities. What’s stopping you?