Glossary of Terms Remote Workers Need to Know

Glossary of Terms Remote Workers Need to Know

The world of work is changing exponentially. It’s transforming at so rapid a pace that we can’t keep up with it. Some businesses have sprung into existence merely to survey the landscape (such as Maqtoob and ProductHunt), which is no small feat.

Here, I’ve compiled a glossary of terms that capture the future of work so you’ll feel up-to-speed and in-the-know, along with any other phrases with hyphens that strike your fancy.

Here’s a glossary of terms remote workers need to know:

  1. Battery: Now figures prominently on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Reflects the amount of time you have left to accomplish your work based on juice left in your devices. Battery loss easily derails productivity.
  2. Blogger: Like an online journalist, but not always as well trained.
  3. Chat: A voice-free and often fully searchable, wholly textual interaction that typically occurs via private chat tools such as Slack or openly through social media such as Twitter.
  4. Collaboration Tools: The wide variety of mediums you use to manage projects, create documents, generate and track invoices, and work alongside co-workers, such as Evernote, G Suite, Trello, and Zapier, among others. Integration of said tools equals relief.
  5. Commute: Previously, time spent in the car, on a bike, or walking to your office (see Traffic). Now comprised of shuffling from the bed to your desk—or drop-lifting your 2-pound laptop from the side table.
  6. Conference Call: A group conversation where the more people you invite, the more Murphy’s law comes into play. What’s the code again? Finally, you’re dialed in. The host has yet to join. Someone’s on a delay … so two colleagues keep talking over one another. You’re getting a lot of work done here.
  7. Connectivity: Also figures prominently in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see Battery). Dealing with connectivity loss (working offline or without a cell signal) is feasible, though not ideal. Like living on a desert island, at some point you’ll need to re-establish communication with the world—for your own survival.
  8. Consultant: Someone whose job it is to tell you how to do your job better. Like a co-worker, but less trusted—no matter how astute. Often works independently (see Freelancer).
  9. Co-workers: These are your business partners, the people on your team, or those working within your company. Previously located near you (see Cubicle); now might be situated a continent or two away (See Distributed and Time Zone).
  10. Co-working: Used often in reference to a shared, painfully hip members-only office space. (“My co-working space has beer on tap and vegan dog treats!”) Does not imply co-workers are actually present.
  11. Cubicle: A small, occasionally shared workspace with zero privacy and abundant fluorescent lighting, located in an office full of other similar workspaces. Never hip.
  12. Culture: No longer a term relegated to dusty human resources handbooks, culture encompasses a company’s values, ethics, and employee morale. When done well, it represents a strategic competitive advantage for companies.
  13. Delay: Refers to putting off a meeting or task; can also refer to unfortunate audio issues (see Conference call, above). Is there an echo in here? Yes, yes, there is … is … is.
  14. Digital Nomad: A term referencing those professionals who are homeless by choice, but tend to work while traveling the world. (And also love to talk about it.) Don’t be fooled; they pay taxes somewhere.
  15. Distributed: Indicates that a person or portion of a workforce aren’t located within an organization’s headquarters or satellite offices. These individuals are often subjected to frequent meetings (see Conference call).
  16. Entrepreneur: A hard-working dreamer whose level of risk aversion would turn most people’s stomachs. Subgenres include: “Solopreneurs” and “Mommypreneurs,” among others. (See Startup).
  17. Expat: Short for “expatriate,” refers to individuals who live outside of their country of origin. Now a badge worn proudly by some in the remote workforce (see Digital Nomad).
  18. F2F: Shorthand for face-to-face, or, the type of meeting you have less frequently thanks to remote work (see IRL and Retreat).
  19. Feedback: Sharing impressions and analysis of others’ actions or work; also refers to unwanted sound emanating from someone’s speakers during a call.
  20. Flexibility: This term encompasses all actions and attitudes related to work that aren’t confined by the space-time continuum. Not increased by yoga practice.
  21. Freelancer: Someone who works independently (see Consultant, Digital Nomad, and Entrepreneur). Requires persistence, good self-management, and enough of a “swashbuckling” nature to generate leads.
  22. Future of Work: A visionary, slightly nebulous term that covers all aspects of what, where, when, and how we will work. Ironically, can also be used to describe present situations (e.g., “We have entered the future of work.”)
  23. Gender Parity: A seemingly-elusive equilibrium between workers of different genders who possess comparable abilities; a term often cited in company values (see Culture).
  24. Gig Economy: This is the work world your parents warned you about. Instead of becoming “lifers” at a single company, ticking off days until retirement (and a fat pension), we’re shilling our skill sets in exchange for flexibility and autonomy. None of this seems like a raw deal, we think. Maybe Mom and Dad were wrong?
  25. Happy Hour: An antiquated term from the good-old days when you shared a workspace (see Cubicle) with co-workers, and would actually enjoy spending time together after work.
  26. Influencer: Those people whose opinions motivate others; they wield hefty followings and can affect your bottom line. This typically comes at a cost, and the real challenge is finding (and engaging) the right ones for your brand.
  27. Innovation: A term that has lost all meaning because of inappropriate overuse; avoid invoking at all costs.
  28. IRL: A gamer term meaning “In Real Life” that has regrettably entered the remote work lexicon. Avoid popularizing it.
  29. In Transit: A state of being that could include time spent traveling or on the road, or simply mean you’re not in front of your laptop or other device. Implication: those wishing to connect with you might run into issues (see Battery and Connectivity).
  30. Invitation: You’ll receive and send many of these in your life. (No, you’re not going to a party.) You’re going to be able to view a document or access software. Congrats!
  31. Location-independent: No longer are you tethered to an office, a desk, or even a computer. Much of your work can be accomplished on the go (see In transit), or remotely from anywhere with a mobile device and wireless Internet.
  32. Nontraditional: As close to avant-garde professional as you can get, nontraditional could describe your workspace, your work schedule, or your company setup. (see Gig Economy).
  33. Open-plan: A positive-sounding term for a privacy-free office layout that triggers paranoid reactions from those previously exposed to them (see Cubicle).
  34. Retreat: Once a battle cry for beleaguered armies, now a fun reference to time spent away (and F2F!) with your remote colleagues. Who knew Jason was so tall IRL?
  35. Remote Work: Work done at a distance (pajamas optional), 100-percent reliant on self-management and technological factors (see Battery, Collaboration tools, Connectivity.)
  36. Startup: An overly optimistic term for a new company that really means “nine out of 10 are doomed to fold.” Hope springs eternal! (See Entrepreneur.)
  37. Technology: The wired and wireless sources of all professional happiness and frustration for knowledge workers.
  38. Teleworking: Not as cool as telekinesis or telepathy; often undertaken by office workers (see Flexibility and Remote work).
  39. Thought Leader: An industry professional whose perspectives are not only trusted but also regularly sought out by peers, competitors, and aspiring professionals (see Influencer). May not necessarily showcase originality or independent thought.
  40. Time Zone: Differences in time based on distance between physical locations, which can be optimized to turn your company into a 24/7 operation. Creates frequent headaches for multinational companies.
  41. Traffic: Typically refers to page views, downloads, unique visitors, etc., rather than vehicles on a road—or, more specifically, sitting on I-95 wondering when you’ll be near a bathroom again.
  42. Transparency: A revolutionary approach to openness often outlined in a company’s values (see Culture) that opens up internal information to employees and/or the masses. Force multiplier or two-edged sword? You decide.
  43. Video Chat: Rarely as informal as it sounds, although possible to conduct without pants. A real-time conversation mimicking the F2F experience; mind your background, though. Your counterpart will judge your messy office.
  44. Wi-Fi: See Connectivity.
  45. Work-from-home: Not intended to be taken literally, unless the local Starbucks is home; increasingly becoming a standard option for previously office-bound knowledge workers, and a source of envy for those who are still office-bound.
  46. Work Abroad: Working outside one’s home country (see Expat). Often carries a glamorous cache; may involve illiteracy and/or cultural faux pas.
  47. Workation: A portmanteau for work and vacation, increasingly used to describe professional engagements while traveling that include sightseeing and actual deliverables. Requires juggling, finesse, and an ability to actually get things done.

By Kristi DePaul | Categories: Work Remotely

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Paulinho Fonseca on October 27, 2016 at 7:16 am

That is a great list. I really identify myself with ‘WORKATION’, have been in a struggle to make family and friends understand that I can be on vacation, but will end up some days locked in room for work. I don’t see it as a hiccup and I love it, but others seem to reject the idea.

    Christina on October 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    I’m new to remote work and I’ve found that while I love the idea of “workations”, I’ve been trained to avoid them. I’ve always understood that working on vacation means you work too much and don’t have your priorities straight. But does it necessarily? I am trying to break out of that belief so that I can embrace the opportunity to go where I want and still work !!! My opportunity is limited because my husband has an anchor-job, but I am actually on a “workation” right now, visiting my family across the country. 🙂 I am hoping to convince him one day to go remote… we’ll see!