The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly shifted the way workers interact with their firms. While some workers are starting to return to the office, the new equilibrium is unclear. Most firms will adopt a hybrid model, but exactly what this looks like — and what it takes to succeed — remains murky.
Even before the pandemic, the traditional worker-firm relationship was morphing. The gig economy, born during the 2007–09 financial crisis, allowed workers to take on multiple piecemeal jobs to make ends meet. It surged in prominence over the last decade.
Together, the rise of work-from-home and the gig economy have loosened the boundaries of the firm, making the ideas of a workplace and a worker more fluid. Today, advances in communication technology and the emergence of new digital platforms are allowing firms to shift an increasing share of work outside of their traditional boundaries, reducing costs and improving flexibility.
From the perspective of workers, however, these changes are a mixed blessing. Can remote and gig work be mutually advantageous? The answer is complex.