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Can your relationship survive the night shift?
Craig D'Mello
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August 10, 2007

In an industry that isn't bound to working in the sunny hours -- shifts, like fries with fish fingers, go hand in hand. With the boom in the BPO industry, there is whole new generation who work after dark and go to bed at sunrise. There have been various postulations as to how working in the night affects individuals, but there are even stranger occurrences with couples who work in shifts. 


For any employee who works in shifts, coping with the disruption of normal sleep patterns is tough, so it is easy to imagine the chaos for a couple in which both partners work in shifts. There may be a movie you wanted to catch with your girlfriend/ boyfriend, but you don't ever seem to get the time, as your shift timings differ.


Love at first shift

Okay, you and your partner work, that's great -- but have you noticed that unlike the normal nine-to-five employee couple, who have some quality time to spend with each other, you sometimes have to go out of your way to meet your partner. There are couples who live-in and so can spend a little more time with each other, but this statistic is miniscule when compared to the number of couples who do not.

Janice D'sa (24) works in a BPO concern and is used to shifts. Her partner, who works for a news channel also works in shifts. She says the week used to go off smoothly, but the problem would arise on weekends or holidays, when different sleep timings would affect the day off. They'd be so used to the routine that they tended to follow it. Even on a holiday, Janice doesn't feel like spending the morning out as she would have to work the next night, and she's so used to staying awake at night, that the morning is better to catch a few winks.


5 ways to cope with the situation


~ Find a buffer hour

Take BPO outfits -- if you work in a BPO concern and so does your partner, find an hour or two that is convenient for you to meet. This way, maybe you can meet her at the end of your shift, while she is on her way to work, or vice versa. If your partner works in a different industry, then this may not be so easy, but there are always ways to beat the system.


~ Be understanding (don't demand time)

Firstly, everyone has to realise that love, however fulfilling it is, doesn't pay bills (and if it does, you are lucky indeed). Be understanding; demanding time will only create a pressure situation. And whether you're a guy or a girl, you should be aware of the other's working habits and how much time one needs for oneself.


~ Make sure time together is well spent

Don't waste time talking about how there's not enough time for you to be together.  Think of how you can maximise the togetherness in the hours you are with your mate.


~ Meet at breaks

You're on the night shift, which leaves you with the option of meeting your better half in the day, during one of his/ her breaks (this is only possible, if time permits and the distance is reasonable). For some it's the tea break, but for most it's lunchtime that's best -- it gives you about an hour to spend with each other.


~ Try to juggle shifts so they coincide

Now this is a feat many aim to achieve. It sounds tough, but with the right reasons and a lot of 'I work best in that hour, sir' type applications (which usually don't work) you just might be able to pull it off. This is an easier task if one partner works a normal day shift. Then all you need to do is get in-synch with that timing.

Time and space

Have you ever wished the night had more hours or that sunrises lasted all day? Unfortunately, reality can be harsh and although many employees are happy working in shifts, they do admit to their love life being affected because of the clash in timings.


There are a few who can manage long-distance relationships successfully, but for couples that work in the same office but never meet, the tale is very different. They find it harder to meet and even more stressful to stay awake longer than required, upsetting the balance the body constantly strives to maintain.


In this age, where time is precious -- we all need to manage our time effectively. So make your own space, and then figure out how to set aside time for your partner. Remember, when two people who understand each other also enjoy their work, the questions will be fewer and the time spent more delightful.

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