Are you a butterfly or a bear?

There is a lot of chat at the moment about hybrid working as office-based businesses emerge from the pandemic. It got me thinking about how leaders are managing this transition for their business.

Will the business emerge from its COVID chrysalis like a beautiful butterfly? Its form, abilities and outlook changed significantly with the transformation to its new order carefully planned.


Will a hungry business awake from its hibernation like a bear? Having used up its reserves, it is 35% lighter, ravenous and keen to get back out hunting the way it did before.

OK so my comparison is purposefully stark to illustrate the point that we have a choice regarding how we manage this organisational change. Hybrid working demands that the aspects of workforce, workplace and ways of working are co-ordinated and in unison.

Let’s drill into the ubiquitous ‘hybrid working’ a little. Hybrid working is a privilege for knowledge-based workers who traditionally work from office-type spaces. It is the ability to flex where (and perhaps to a lesser degree, when) we work – depending on need and the type of work to be done.

What will the leaders of butterfly and bear businesses be thinking about as they manage the transition to hybrid working?


  • Views it as an opportunity to redesign work to reflect changing customer & team needs
  • Develops new models of working that are driven by business need
  • Seizes the opportunity to use technology to enable new ways of working
  • Consults and engages with their workforce collectively
  • Takes responsibility for supporting employees to work safely, securely, and professionally from wherever they work
  • Understands the significant change effort in terms of designing & delivering ‘the next normal'.


  • Wants to make up for lost time and get back to the business it knows as soon as possible therefore will respond to individual team members' requests for flexibility as they emerge
  • Believes that the additional flexibility being requested can be accommodated as a variation to existing practices
  • Engagement is on an individual basis and therefore 'approval’ processes will have to be transparent
  • The old cave is still the default for many team members but it may not be getting used efficiently
  • Initially, the change feels quite minimal but potential for significant disruption at a later date.

In reality, many businesses may end up as Butterbears (yes there is such a thing – those of us who lived through the 1980s may remember the Wuzzles 😊). However, we shouldn't plan to be a Butterbear; we should choose to be a butterfly. Although it may be tough, COVID is the chrysalis from which we can choose to transform our workforce, workplace and ways of working. We weren’t hibernating; we were just waiting to fly.

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