Our Prediction for 2021’s Top Business Buzzword? Hybrid.


Move over “new normal,” “unprecedented,” and “you’re on/not on mute.” It’s a new year, and there’s a new phrase everyone will be using on repeat. In our way too early pick for 2021’s buzziest business buzzword, we’re going with: “Hybrid.”

Why? Below, we look at the reasons you’ll be hearing (and we’ll be talking) about the hybrid wor(l)d for the rest of this year.

So why do we think you’re going to be tired of the word “hybrid” even before you get to the end of this article?

Well, it starts with…  

Hybrid workplaces. We’ve already been hearing this term since at least July of 2020. But with the vaccine (slowly) rolling out, plan on the term being used on overdrive.

First off, there’s the fact that 1/3 of employees don’t want to go back to the office.

Second of all, hybrid workplaces can save businesses a ton of money.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, hybrid workplaces provide a flexible way to transition back (and forth) from fully remote work. 

  • We may soon see restrictions lift, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll hold. If most workplace experts agree on anything in 2021, it’s that the only consistency will be inconsistency.
  • “We’re just not going to go back to five days a week in the office … The idea that we’re going to get to some new consistent way of working flies in the face of what we’ve learned in the pandemic,” predicts Erica Volini, Deloitte’s global human capital leader.
  • The hybrid workplace’s one-foot-in-one-foot-out offers some semblance of stability for business leaders still shellshocked from constant reopenings and shutdowns. 

Hybrid work events. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the other hybrid we were already hearing about in 2020. Get ready for summer, fall, and winter to be full of “hybrid events.”

  • These in-person/virtual experiences are touted as the lifeline (and eventually lifeblood) of the tradeshow, conference, and workshop industries. 

Hybrid workplaces. Okay, but those are only two phrases. That’s not too bad, right? Well, Harvard Business Review decided to turn the term up to 11 with their “hybrid” vision for the post-covid working world.

  • What have they added to the list? Hybrid talent, hybrid culture, and hybrid careers. 

And as HBR goes, so goes the business nation. Expect to see hybrid slapped onto the front of many business terms moving forward. 

Too much of a good thing? While they do make sense for some things, trying to hybridize everything can be a messy affair.

  • Mashing things together willy nilly usually leads to Frankensteins not unicorns. There is a real danger that many hybrid workplaces will result in the worst of all worlds.
  • The key to avoiding nightmarish business monstrosities? A rigorous focus on equalization and the understanding that most things are better off separate.

Beyond hybrid. Already sick of hearing the word “hybrid?” Alright, here’s a new one to add to your buzzword lexicon: the “workplace metaverse.”

(We’re not ready yet to bet if metaverse will catch on.)

This article first appeared in our weekly, Elevating HR newsletter. Check it out and sign up on our newsletter page.

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