Nine Lies About Work – Is it more engaging to be a full-time worker, a part-time worker, a virtual worker, or a gig worker?

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | Nine Lies About Work - Is it more engaging to be a full-time worker, a part-time worker, a virtual worker, or a gig worker?Is it more engaging to be a full-time worker, a part-time worker, a virtual worker, or a gig worker?

According to the study, the most engaging work status is to have one full-time job and one part-time job.[wcm_restrict plans=”25541, 25542, 25653″]

  • Of those who have this status, 25 percent are Fully Engaged, compared to 16 percent for those whose status is captured in only one of the other categories.
  • A possible explanation is that this status brings the best of both worlds—the full-time job brings stability and benefits, while the part-time role brings not only some additional earnings but also flexibility and the chance to do something the worker truly enjoys.Gig-only workers who are part of a team are also highly engaged.
  • Of gig-only workers on teams, 21 percent are Fully Engaged, as compared with 15 percent of traditional workers.

The two most common reasons for taking gig work are flexibility of schedule and the chance to do something the worker loves, suggesting that, as we saw with part-time work, these two factors may well be one of the sources of the worker’s higher level of engagement.

  • The most common title of gig-only workers is president, suggesting that many people take gig work because they like to see themselves as their own boss.

When we examine all of the eight engagement questions closely we see that gig-only workers score more positively on six of the eight, but significantly lower on the remaining two. The two questions where the gig-only workers scored lower than traditional workers were:

  • “In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.”
  • “My teammates have my back.”

This suggests that, as other researchers have noted, gig-only workers may well feel more isolated than other sorts of workers. However, when we examined gig-only workers who were also on a team, the differences on these two questions disappeared. This implies that gig work does not necessarily have to be isolating, and that if a gig worker can work in a team then she will net all the benefits of gig work (greater flexibility, higher chance of doing work she enjoys, being her own boss) while at the same time feeling the benefits of traditional work (the safety and support of her teammates). One implication for companies is that, if they choose to use contractors or gig workers – and today many do – the faster and more genuinely they can introduce these workers into teams, the more engagement, more productivity, and higher retention they will see from these workers. The inverse is also true: that the more companies can make traditional full-time work similar to gig work – as in, greater flexibility and ownership for team members, and a greater chance to do what they love – the more engagement, productivity, and higher retention they will see from their full-time workers.

In all countries and industries, virtual workers—so long as these workers are also team workers – are more likely to be Fully Engaged than those who do their work in an office:

  • Of virtual workers, 29 percent are Fully Engaged, versus 17 percent for traditional office workers.

This suggests both that physical proximity is not required to create a sense of team and that the flexibility and ease inherent in working virtually are appealing to all workers (as long as they feel part of a team).

Working virtually is not the same as traveling for work. Those workers who reported that they traveled for work displayed the lowest levels of engagement.

  • Of those who travel for work, 11 percent are Fully Engaged, versus 16 percent for those who don’t travel for work.

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Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Copyright 2019 One Thing Productions, Inc. and Ashley Goodall. All rights reserved.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Marcus BuckinghamMarcus Buckingham is a bestselling author and global researcher focusing on all aspects of people and performance at work.  During his years at the Gallup Organization, he worked with Dr. Donald O. Clifton to develop the StrengthsFinder program, and coauthored the seminal business books First, Break All The Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths.  He designed the StandOut strengths assessment completed by over one million people to date, and authored the accompanying book, Standout: Find Your Edge, Win at Work.  He currently heads all people and performance research at the ADP Research Institute.  Nine Lies About Work is his ninth book.

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Ashley GoodallAshley Goodall is the Senior Vice President of Leadership and Team Intelligence at Cisco Systems.  In this role, he built a new organization focused entirely on serving teams and team leaders – an organization combining learning and talent management, people planning, organizational design, executive talent and succession planning, coaching, assessment, team development, research and analytics, and performance technology.  Prior to joining Cisco, he spent fourteen years at Deloitte, where he was responsible for Leader Development and Performance Management