‘Hybrid work’ is new and sexy, isn’t it?
Well, no, not really. It might be new to the majority but it’s been around for ages. The key bit here is ‘the majority’.
‘Hybrid work’ is following the technology adoption curve and is now hitting the stages of majority adoption. It seems like it is a radical change because it is happening so fast and it feels like it’s zipping through the Early and Late Majority segments in record time. We’ve gone from crawling along to Warp Factor 10 and the universe is zipping by in a blur.
It’s been possible for ages. Cheap, powerful laptops have been available for a couple of decades and have been our home computer of choice for a long time. Smart phones hooked up to 4G networks have been ubiquitous since 2012. Wifi even longer. Social networks too.
Some of us have been doing Hybrid Work since well before these technologies became common place. More recently, it’s become the usual way of working for executives in global corporations, for consultants and freelancers, people in sales and field support, academics and artists.
But it’s stopped there, outside the mainstream, limited to the pioneers and enlightened few. Until now
So what changed? Well, COVID made us ‘Cross the Chasm’.
“What chasm?”, I hear you ask?
The one described by Geoffrey Moore in his book “Crossing the Chasm”, where adoption of a disruptive innovation stalls because it requires behavioural change that the majority are resistant too. I think we can all agree that most people have found ‘Hybrid Working’ disruptive. And, as we’ve seen, boy has there been some resistance – most notably by those who hold the levers of power.
COVID was such a disruption in itself that it simply blasted that resistance out of the way. In a blink an eye (well, OK, about a couple of weeks), knowledge workers switched to an extreme form of ‘Hybrid’, with most ‘Working from Home’ and a skeleton crew going to the office.
There was simply no other option. Change behaviour and move to hybrid/Working from Home or cease to functoin, and ultimately exist, as an organisation.
It’s the momentum from that massive shove in back from COVID that has powered adoption through the Early Majority into the Late Majority, with the only distinguishing factor being how readily and enthusiastically they have taken to it.
So now we’re into the Laggards, whilst the Skeptics are holding out, writing strident articles in defence of the office and against the tyranny of having to work from wherever you want to. I expect adoption will now slow down to a snail’s pace and they will still be protesting the folly of Hybrid and doggedly commuting to sit in empty offices for a while yet, like the Japanese soldiers hiding in the jungle long after peace has been declared.
Hybrid work will shortly just be called ‘work’. Indeed, we will not just have adopted it but developed and refined it into something much better than we have now. And we’ll look back and wonder how we ever got anything done in ‘pre-COVID’ days.