The Shift Work Environment in Meteorology Needs to Change!18 Nov , 2011 | 30
The shift work environment in meteorology needs to change…Yea I said it! We all know that most of the operational meteorology jobs out there involve some type of shift work. Although I’ve talked about few Monday-Friday operational meteorology jobs (See my previous post), most operational meteorologists are forced to work overnights, holidays, weekends.
And it makes sense…the weather does not sleep! And the mentality is: Why should you or your company? A great example is the role of an aviation meteorologist…(see my previous post). Pilots are flying at all times, in both hemispheres, and they need to be kept abreast of weather information. It makes sense.
But shift work was very difficult for me. It took a toll on my health, my social life, and personal life. When I worked as an aviation meteorologist, I used to work a swing and overnight shift. The swing shifts were 11am-11pm, 2pm-2am…and the overnight shift was from 6pm-6am. And I used to work 4 days on 4 days off, or when it was busy 5 days on…and 3 days off. The hardest part for me was being away on major holidays and weekends/nights from my family. The second hardest part was sitting in traffic and commuting in to work (which took me about 45 min to an hour each way). It was also tough to adjust on my days off during overnight shift. I tried to switch back into “day mode” to seem “normal”…but then I had to go back to a night owl so soon it messed with my internal clock. Shift work was tough for my body and mind!
I know there are many meteorologists out there that currently feel the same way I did. Tired, groggy, and just wish there was another solution. Well I want to introduce you to a new model that is being successfully run at a top aviation weather company on the west coast (I won’t name names…but I am a huge fan!).
The company allows their meteorologists to work from home. Yes…home. Yes you can sit in your pajamas all day or night and work from the goodness of your laptop. How awesome is that!
And you know what is amazing…the turnover of the meteorology department at the aviation company has dropped considerably. The employees are much happier…and the product they put out is just as great…if not better. And they’re still doing shift work! Plus the employer is being “green” too. The employees are driving less and are spending much less on gas. The employees are able to spend more time with their families (because they are driving less and they’re at home all day)…and the employer saves money on office space and monitors/computer equipment at the office…all in all it’s a win-win set up.
Now some folks may bring up a few valid issues with this approach: #1: What about security? #2: What about cohesion within the group?
This aviation company has strict protocols while the employees work from home…and each of them are on a secured laptop. And cohesion…well social networking and technology is keeping everyone “cohesive” these days…and there are applications like Skype, Basecamp, or internal proprietary programs where employees can stay connected at all times from any time zone and any place in the world.
Plus the folks at the aviation company meet once or twice a week in the office to catch up on meetings, work on meteorology graphics, and other administrative issues. Now I do understand that not ALL operational meteorologists can realistically work from home…(ie NWS) would be difficult due to the very strict clearances they have… but for private consulting meteorologists, private aviation meteorologists, wind meteorologists, solar energy meteorologists…I think they can do better.
I hope employers in meteorology (or any other job function for that matter) always remember that people are your competitive advantage. Happy employees are productive employees are motivated employees. I couldn’t agree more and fully support the work-from-home business model for private shift work operational meteorologists.
So, it begs me to ask the following questions…do we really need private operational meteorologists working shift work in an office environment? Can most operational shift work employers follow the work-from-home business model? What do you think? (Photo credit: quierosersaludable.com)