How do field engineers create a work life balance to look after their physical and mental health?
There are engineers working in the field all over the world. They work in many different industries maintaining, servicing, and installing. You may not always see them, but they are there keeping everything functioning.
They need to be technically knowledgeable and skilled with great customer facing skills.
They also need to be able to work under pressure and sometimes:
in cramped situations
in all weathers
whilst answering a customer’s questions
for long hours to complete a job
whilst wearing protective clothing
If they consider that a situation is not safe, then they need to take the responsibility for stopping a job. That means that the field engineer is the one who must deal with the pressure and requests from the customer to keep going. For a lot of engineers, this presents a difficult situation as they need to balance wanting to satisfy the customer with keeping things safe.
What do field engineers do when they have a day off?
How do they relax and make time to look after themselves for a change?
How do they recharge their batteries so that their mental health doesn’t suffer?
These are the ten ways experienced field engineers take time for themselves on their days off.
The first and most important one is to enjoy the time whatever it is you do.
Either do something not too strenuous if your job is very physical, or aerobic to balance being hunched over a machine for hours.
Change your environment for physical activity and:
Go outside to have fresh air if you’ve been in buildings
Stay inside if you’ve spent the week outside
Exercises like yoga and pilates are useful to compensate for the pressure that a lot of tasks put on neck, shoulders and back.
Being outside and breathing is an activity in itself.
Looking into the distance to rest eyes after staring whilst doing close work will help the health of your eyes.
You’re still a field engineer, but you don’t have to wear safety or protective clothing. Sandals are fine.
A bit of a contradiction as the life of a field engineer can be lonely. However, being alone with no responsibilities can be very relaxing.
Having some time when you are not:
the one in charge
the person who needs to answer questions
the one who is in the spotlight and the focus of attention
Some field engineers find that mindfulness or meditation helps to clear a busy mind.
During the working week, field engineers have to leave their own worries, troubles and concerns at the door when they go on site or meet the customer.
Your day off may be the day when not having to smile and look positive is the aim. Everyone needs friends and family or support groups to give them the chance to be honest and completely themselves. Sometimes, it is good to be the one being looked after and helped.
The other thing to consider is that going for a swim or playing a sport can be very relaxing. The relaxation comes from the focus being on the activity not on you as a person.
Activity without urgency or time pressure
Field engineering is always time pressured. In some cases, when a production line has been stopped or a piece of equipment is out of action, it can be very urgent as there is an hourly amount being quoted.
Activities which take time but are not urgent are ideal. For example:
Being creative and making something
Engineers find that being creative can be a real balance to repairing, maintaining, and installing.
Creative activities like baking, cooking, DIY (do it yourself), art, crafts etc.
Learning something which isn’t job related
Learning for the joy of learning with no time pressure or exams to take.
So perhaps something which isn’t technical.
speak a new language
a new type of cookery.
Volunteering is a good way to become part of the community. Most field engineers are at their best when giving and helping. So, this can be a great match.
Self-care is a critical part of a day off
Six things to consider:
Eat regular balanced and healthy meals.
Drink lots of water
Get good sleep
Stay connected with friends and family (especially important for those who work away from home base)
If your day off is away from your home base, then try and explore. Even if you are in a small place which is not known for tourism, there will be something to see.
Sharing your days off
We are starting a series of articles highlighting what field engineers do on their days off. If you would like to be part of this, please email: