Strongly correlated materials that exhibit an insulator-metal transition are key candidates in the search for new computing platforms. Understanding the pathways and timescales underlying the electrically-driven insulator-metal transition is crucial for uncovering the fundamental limits of device operation. Using stroboscopic electron diffraction, we perform synchronized time-resolved measurements of atomic motions and electronic transport in operating vanadium dioxide switches. We discover an electrically-triggered, isostructural state that forms transiently on microsecond timescales, stabilized by local heterogeneities and interfacial interactions between the equilibrium phases. This metastable phase bears striking similarity to that formed under photoexcitation within picoseconds, suggesting a universal transformation pathway across eight orders of magnitude of timescale. Our results establish a new route for uncovering non-equilibrium and metastable phases in correlated materials, and open avenues for engineering novel dynamical behavior in nanoelectronics.