Feature Story

Hybrid work: Revolution or evolution?

We’re in the midst of a fundamental change rather than gradual change. It’s a revolution, not evolution.
Oct 07, 2021

This is a post by Denise Lee

Not too long ago, “hybrid work” was seen as a luxury, a benefit for those who could manage their work from home every now and again. Forward thinking? Yes. Ubiquitous? No. But throw in a pandemic-induced, grand experiment of work-from-home, and suddenly hybrid work went from nice-to-have to must-have. 

Since the advent of hybrid work isn’t exactly new, is this shift from nice-to-have to must-have a revolution or evolution? I believe we’re in the midst of a fundamental change rather than gradual change. It’s a revolution, not evolution. And the revolutionary shift to hybrid work is profound for these reasons. 

Enabling a culture of choice 

This revolution is about personalization and empowering a culture of choice, not just about the enabling technologies that make hybrid work practical. What made this pandemic such a force for change is the sheer scale and speed of the global adoption of hybrid work. 

The optimization of the Internet for hybrid work has given rise to a new cultural norm of how work is done today. Secure mobile devices allow us to roam and are now powerful enough for us to work anywhere effectively. Collaboration tools enable remote teams to work together as if they were in a room.  And advances in networking such as 5G/Wi-Fi 6 are blurring the line between home and office networking experience, much like streaming movies at home are disrupting the movie theater business model. 

But choices have consequences, of course. To make hybrid work work, this culture of choice must be rooted in accountability, trust, and discipline. 

Talent wars – a global phenomenon 

The war on talent just got more intense as hybrid work breaks down all geographical barriers to the job market. It wasn’t that long ago that looking for a job was highly location specific. In a matter of months, the hybrid work revolution opened job markets to the most qualified candidates no matter where they were located - literally around the world. This is a boon for building inclusive and diverse teams and finding top talent wherever they are, and underscores that career success is no longer tied to being at headquarters.  

Rise of SMBs and Hybrid Work Entrepreneurs    

Hybrid work is fueling a new mindset where workers think small - as in leaving corporate work life in exchange for a small and medium business. Hybrid work is driving workers to search for new jobs at a scale we have not seen before - up to four million per month.  Some are leaving the workforce permanently, many workers are opting to either join or start small businesses.  More than 440,000 new businesses were started in June of this year alone.  

Why? Because at home in our non-work lives, we must be in charge as the CEO of the household, from timing when to safely get your groceries, managing distance learning for our children, or just keeping up with the dizzying number of pandemic procedures that could change week-by-week. The point is that we were empowered to make decisions that affected every moment of every day as we figured out adapted to juggling work/home/school, etc. 

These three hybrid work trends signal that we really are in the midst a genuine revolution. What role will you play? Will you join the ranks of newly minted hybrid workers? Or will you lead the movement to become the next hybrid work entrepreneur?  

The choice is entirely yours.