Most of what you read about (and we write about) remote work is for employees: people who have a boss, who work for the organization that pays them, and do as they’re told in exchange for a steady paycheck. But as the world of work changes, more and more of our teammates may be contractors or temporary workers. Does employee engagement apply to them as well, since they’re not even technically “employed”?
The answer is yes, although to be technical the term should be worker engagement. Even if you are not employed full time, even if you don’t plan to work for this company past a set point in time, and even if you have no intention of ever commuting to an office again, engagement matters.
There are a lot of reasons people work as contractors or “gig” workers:
- They are keeping themselves fed while searching for a full time job.
- They have chosen to focus on work they enjoy rather than worrying about a “career track.”
- They enjoy variety in their work.
- It’s easier to maintain work-life balance or spend time on long-term goals like growing a company or creating a new business.
- They can get income from multiple sources.
Those are all perfectly valid reasons. Each of us has our own purpose in life. But regardless of why we work the jobs we do, there are certain things that are consistently true.
Why Engagement Matters
- Social interaction. In the western world, most of our social interaction takes place through work. Engaged team members (even contractors) take joy in building relationships, having fun, and making work less transactional. Working remotely can take a toll on our mental health, positive work experiences and interaction with others in a positive way is healthy for both your job situation and your overall well-being.
- Creates a sense of value. Engaged workers put in more effort and are perceived as more valuable to the team. Most of us crave validation for what we do. Who wants to work in a vacuum?
- May lead to a better opportunity If you are looking to find a full-time job, being engaged with your current workmates will boost your profile and increase the chances of landing a job there, or at least getting a referral from people with whom you have positive relationships. Formal networking can be mind-numbing and stressful. Informal networking and referrals is more natural, less anxiety-inducing and ultimately more rewarding. Most empty jobs filled externally come through personal referrals.
- Creates a good work record If you’re a project or short-term worker you’re always looking for where the next opportunity will be. Being seen as a positive, helpful, competent person who adds value to the work increases the odds you’ll be first in line for new assignments or projects. When employers or hiring services look to staff it’s easier to go to known resources than start from scratch each time.
- Makes work and life more enjoyable When you’re (appropriately) challenged by your work, learning new skills, engaging with pleasant people, and not stressing about where the next gig will come from you are able to enjoy life a bit more.
While a few folks are happy to do only what’s required, receive a paycheck, and interact with other humans as little as possible, most people crave a positive work experience. There are both personal and professional reasons to engage with your teammates, even if you don’t get paid by the same person or receive benefits.
Being a great Long-Distance Teammate is seldom the wrong option.
We’ve created the ultimate guide book to becoming a great Long-Distance Teammate. Pre-order your copy today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. You can pre-order Kevin and Wayne’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, now.