Like every group or community has a unique set of slang and lingo, so does the remote working tribe. Whether you just joined the remote bandwagon or have been its loyal driver, here is a compilation of some formal, some short-hand, some abbreviations, and some portmanteau terms. This ultimate remote work glossary will help you communicate with your fellow remote workers smoothly and efficiently.
1. Agile: A project management method that divides tasks into small ones and ensures regular progress assessments. It is mostly implemented in technical divisions such as software development.
2. Asynchronous Communication: Contrary to Synchronous communication, this form does not require immediate or real-time response. Asynchronous Communication is becoming increasingly popular as it provides the freedom to work on one’s terms. As this form of communication is documented, it is easier to go back for reference. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Emails, and Dropbox are examples of the same.
3. Blended Work Team: A team that includes virtual or remote workers and office-going workers.
4. Blended Workweek: A workweek wherein employees work from home on certain days and from an office location on other days.
5. Cloud Storage: Also known as online storage, it is a cloud computing model where digital data (like files and documents) are stored on remote servers which are accessed from the Internet, or ‘the cloud’. Cloud storage enables remote teams to work on the same documents collaboratively.
6. Collaboration Tools: Tools that help two or more people accomplish the same task more quickly and efficiently. Popular examples include G Suite, Trello, and World Time Buddy. Be it project management, documentation or tracking, these ergonomic tools allow remote workers to coordinate smoothly with each other in real-time.
7. Compliance: To conform to the standard law, i.e., to follow a set of rules stated by the law of a country. Compliance in business means that a company must adhere to all the rules of the land they (or their workers) operate from.
8. Coworking: A work arrangement where employees, remote workers, or freelancers working for different companies share an office space. Due to space crunch and affordability, coworking spaces are becoming increasingly common. WiFi, meeting rooms, snacks, printing, and parking are some common amenities.
9. Digital Nomad: People who travel (often internationally) and work remotely. They are often location-independent, i.e., not working from a permanent office. Digital nomads rely heavily on technology and tools to perform their tasks. They combine their quest to travel and explore with their everyday work.
10. Distributed Teams: Remote teams wherein team members spread across different time zones and geographies. In most situations, there is no central physical office. Distributed teams connect virtually to deliver tasks.
11. Employer of Record: An organisation that takes responsibility for payment and tax compliances along with insurance and visa applications on behalf of another organisation. Additionally, anything that may fall under the purview of human resources may be taken up by them.
12. EOD: End Of Day
13. EOM: End Of Message
14. EOT: End Of Thread
15. ESP: Email Service Provider
16. Expat: Short for ‘expatriate’. It refers to a person who lives outside of their country of origin.
17. Flex Time: Short for ‘flexible time’. In this engagement of work, an employee is free to choose their working hours and schedule.
18. Freelancer: A person who works for themselves and is organisation independent. They are often known as self-employed or independent contractors. Freelancers take short term contracts or projects from multiple companies that they must complete within a stipulated time.
19. Future of Work: A new term that subsumes discussions around upcoming technologies, processes, working styles, etc., that will influence the way humans work in the coming years.
20. Gig Economy: Previously known as ‘sharing’ or ‘collaborative economy’. The gig economy is a dynamic setup wherein freelance jobs are becoming common. Under this arrangement, companies are shifting from employing permanent workers to independent short-term contractors.
21. Happy Hours: Another term for ‘after-work hours.’ This is a common time where coworkers engage and interact with each other. (This term was initially coined for the duration when bars and restaurants offer food and beverages at discounted prices. Since these locations were generally used by employees to unwind, the term was extended to offices.)
22. Hot Desking: This is a reservation-less seating method.
23. Hybrid Teams: A team where some members work remotely and some operate from the co-located offices.
24. Independent Contractor – Workers who are onboarded for a specific project for a defined period of time. The work of an Independent Contractor may or may not be controlled by the organisation fully, i.e., s/he will have more freedom regarding the work than permanent employees. Independent Contractors do not qualify for the benefits that employees get and have to work on their own equipment and tools.
25. Independent Contractor Compliance – Abbreviated as IC Compliance. These are the set of laws and regulations that categorise some workers as independent contractors. Some states also have a series of test/procedures to determine who comes under this category.
26. Instant Message: Abbreviated to ‘IM.’ Instant Messaging is a form of online chat that takes place between individuals, or teams, using a computer, smartphone or other mobile devices. Needless to say, such messaging is real-time and requires all participants to use the same application. Examples include Slack, Skype, and WhatsApp.
27. Internet of Things: Abbreviated as ‘IoT’. It refers to objects that are embedded with technologies like software and sensors. They help collect and transmit data over the internet without human intervention. Examples include smart home security systems and biometric cybersecurity scanners.
28. Jellies: These are local groups of teleworkers that gather at public places to socialise and collaborate. Examples include coffee shops, libraries, etc.
29. Job sharing: When two or more part-time employees fill one position.
30. Location-independent/Agnostic Location: A workstyle wherein the job of a person isn’t affected by their location. This arrangement is a result of employees seeking more flexibility and freedom. Under this setup, employees are not bound to one desk or office. A wireless network and portable device help them work from anywhere in the world.
31. Mobile Worker: Another term for a teleworker. The individual is primarily on the road and does not spend the majority of their time at one location.
32. Offshoring: When a company sets a part of its operations overseas, the process is called offshoring. It is usually done in order to save costs (such as labour) but often results in job transfers to other countries.
33. Outsourcing: Contracting or subcontracting work to a 3rd party company that specialises in a particular process.
34. Open Plan: A room or building with almost no walls, divisions, or cubicles. Similar to a coworking set up, here people work in the open to facilitate easy communication and collaboration.
35. Professional Employer Organisation: Abbreviated as ‘PEO.’ It is an organisation that provides human resource, consulting, compliance, training and development services to small and medium enterprises.
36. Remote Curious: An organisation interested in transitioning to a remote work setup.
37. Remote-First: An organisation in which all employees work remotely. It is the default way of functioning. Remote-first organisations may have employees working under different time zones.
38. Remote-Friendly: A culture which allows people to work remotely. Here the remote setup is not the default and applicable to all but an employee’s choice. Even with a physical office, employees have the flexibility and freedom to work remotely.
39. Remote Hiring: Hiring people virtually, without an in-person interview.
40. Remote Office Centres: Distributed centres for leasing offices to individuals from multiple companies.
41. Remote Workers: Employees that works from a location geographically different from other members of their team or the parent organisation. Although the terms are sometimes used synonymously, remote workers do not necessarily work from home.
42. Retreat: A getaway involving all members of the organisation or distributed team. This can be annual, half-yearly or quarterly. Retreats are about travelling to a destination for a few days to work, think, relax and bond with each other.
43. Scrum Meeting: A short meeting of usually 15 minutes wherein a team discusses the accomplishments, agendas and roadblocks. These meetings are beneficial in dividing the tasks into smaller doable segments.
44. SMART Goal: It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable (or Achievable), Realistic, and Time-bound goals.
45. Sprint: A short period wherein scrum teams work without interruptions at increased levels of productivity. In this time, distractions are minimal, and all the hands are brought to focus on the task at hand.
46. Synchronous Communication: A type of communication that takes place in real-time and requires an immediate response. Examples include telephonic or face-to-face conversations.
47. Telecommute: A remote work arrangement in which employees work from home or a location other than an office. Employees often dial into work via the internet, email or telephone.
48. Teleworking: Leveraging technology to perform one’s job without the limits or boundaries of geography or the need for physical presence. Sometimes used synonymously with telecommute, telework is much broader. All telecommuters are teleworkers, but not all teleworkers are telecommuters.
49. Thought Leader: An individual or organisation who is an expert in a particular field. Such people are sought after for speaking at public events, webinars, seminars, conferences in a bid to influence and inspire.
50. Virtual Assistant: A support provider in a remote setup. Virtual Assistants handle calls and customer services and perform secretarial tasks such as diary management, data entry and cold calling.
51. Virtual Office: A service that provides a business with an office address, telephone number, mailing address, meeting rooms without the need for a physical space. It saves companies the cost of lease and administrative staff as it is relatively cheaper. Employees can work from anywhere but still have provisions like mail forwarding or a VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone system.
52. VPN: Virtual Private Network
53. Workation: A portmanteau term for work and vacation. It describes professional engagements while travelling. It requires juggling, finesse, multi-tasking and an ability to get things done.
54. Work from Home: Abbreviated as ‘WFH.’ This is an arrangement where an employee works from their residence. Such engagement can be permanent or temporary.
55. Work from Anywhere: Abbreviated as ‘WFA’. In this arrangement, an employee can select when, how, and where they operate from. For instance, a person can work a few hours or days in an office setting and rest at home. Or, they may work fully remotely. Or, a combination of the two.
There you have it! Your very own remote work dictionary. We hope this helps you become more remote-friendly. Do share it with your fellow remote workers.
Another way to get acquainted with the remote work model is by connecting with Skuad. Whether you’re an organisation looking to onboard remote teams or talent looking to work for global leaders, Skuad can help you connect with the best opportunities. #JoinSkuad and experience these terms in your professional life, every day.