NetLingo 2022 Word of the Year: Hybrid Work

One of my favorite things about tracking internet terms for 30 years now (!) is seeing how the jargon morphs. There are so many words that are a combination of two or more things a.k.a. "hybrids" including the NetLingo Word of the Year for 2022... hybrid work. 

Hybrid work refers to a flexible work model that supports a blend of in-office and work from home. Many employers offer employees the autonomy to choose if they want to WFH permanently or "do hybrid work" - split their time between their home office and “The Office.”

Working from home went mainstream when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 and millions of office workers were confined to their homes. The pandemic didn't create the hybrid work model though, it accelerated the trend which began 2000s when the internet became reliable enough to use at home. By 2022, hybrid work transformed working arrangements and influenced more than just your father's office. 

For example, real estate markets like Boise, ID and Flagstaff, AZ got flooded with white-collar workers from high-cost cities like San Francisco and Seattle, and while remote work was a financial game changer for most of the uprooted professionals, it didn't change local incomes so the real estate market in Boise and Flagstaff became "overvalued" by 76.9% and 65.6%.

Now, 68 percent of employees expect to work from home at least three days a week, according an HP survey of office workers in the U.S. and Canada. This digitization movement has also produced additional trends such as quiet quitting, the act of not taking your job too seriously so as to focus your time on life outside of the office.

The term hybrid was added to in 1996 to refer to "hybrid search sites" HotBot and InfoSpace haha (I love me some business history and internet culture :) Over the decades "hybrid" morphed to also refer to hybrid site, hybrid cloud, hybrid model, hybrid company, hybrid reality, cyborgdigital analog hybridand hybrid shorthand.

And behind all that morphing is one of the original uses of the term hybrid, the HFC, (Hybrid Fiber Coax) which is responsible for delivering voice, Internet, cable TV and other digital services to your home and work - only one of the most important functions for everyone nowadays, and the defining factor that enables hybrid work.

Get this, the literal first use of the Latin term was in 1600 when the word hybrid came from hybrida, a variant of ibrida “mongrel,” meaning “offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar”, and was used to refer to the “offspring of plants or animals of a different variety or species”. It's funny but that kind of "weird offspring" derivative makes sense for all of the tech terms mentioned here in some way, (shape or form) lol! Even for hybrid work. 

Pajama bottoms with Zoom tops is what our century's version of the mythical half human/half horse creature Centaur looks like. Such is our hybrid work/life in the 21st century. Happy New Year everyone! 

Erin Jansen, Social Psychologist, Internet Historian, Online SpecialistFounder of