Jan 21, 2008

Why shiftworkers enjoy shiftwork

Earlier this month I came across a post on someone's personal blog that I can paraphrase as "no one likes shiftwork, no one works shiftwork by choice, and all shiftworkers are looking to get out of it the first chance they get."

I posted a comment saying that's not the case. I think the blogger was projecting her dissatisfaction with shiftwork on everyone else. Of course there are many challenges to working shiftwork. We know it. We find ways to manage them, or minimize them.

Through the years I have heard from or about many shiftworkers who prefer shiftwork for all kinds of reasons. Here are some:

The type of work may be of interest -- doctors and nurses in hospitals, pilots, railroad engineers, police officers, and many other professions have jobs that need to be available 24/7. If your life's dream is to be a railroad engineer, you're going to be a shiftworker and be happy about .

The shiftworker lifestyle may be preferable -- having free time during the day, particularly mid-week, provides some advantages such as cheaper skiing or movies, less-crowded beaches, etc. Also, for night owl types, not having to wake up in the early morning to get to a 9-to-5 job may be a big plus.

The logistics may be better -- parents may be able to better share child care when one works at night (I saw an article this weekend on that, For parents, avoiding day care not an easy proposition), avoiding rush hour traffic, parking may be more readily available or may be free at night, and there are many other such reasons.

The pay may be better than comparable day work -- is this a real reason for preferring shiftwork or are people just being bought off? I say yes. I'd prefer to spend my life sleeping in late, going for a bike ride or a run, and listening to music or reading a good book. I compromise because of my work. I PREFER to work because, for one reason, I get paid for doing it, and I haven't found anyone who will pay me for listing to my iPod or riding my bike. Shiftworkers, like everyone, make this calculation.

I've heard from shiftworkers who like working at night because there are fewer meetings and fewer supervisors around. There are all sorts of reasons shiftworkers like and even prefer shiftwork.

What do you like best about shiftwork? Share your thoughts.


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