TRaD Work: Simplifying Definitions for Telecommuting, Remote and Distributed Teams

TRaD Work: Simplifying Definitions for Telecommuting, Remote and Distributed Teams

At, we’re all about remote work (however you refer to it), and we want to simplify the language used to describe this way of working. My team and I have heard many remote-related terms to describe work being done outside a traditional office. In interviewing over 90 remote companies and teams, we’ve developed a better sense of how people describe what they do when they work outside a traditional office setting.

Some teams are steadfast “remote” workers, while others prefer “distributed” because remote sounds too isolated. And telecommuting, a term coined in the 1970s by Jack Nilles, is still commonly used and highly-recognizable. But there are more—lots more—including work from home or work at home, virtual work, online jobs, working from anywhere, geographically neutral work, location-agnostic, home-based jobs, and the list goes on.

And besides just being annoying, the various terms and subsequent confusion are actually doing a disservice to the credibility and professionalism of these types of jobs and work arrangements, which are indisputably becoming more and more of a reality in our workplaces, with some estimates stating that 50 percent of their people will be working remotely by 2020. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the horrible work-from-home stock photos which make telecommuting look just plain ridiculous half of the time!

But back to the verbiage: all of the various terms used to describe working outside an office all mean essentially the same thing—work that doesn’t have to be performed in a traditional office setting.

Is there an easier way to describe this giant shift in where and how we work? We think having so many different terms for work done outside a brick-and-mortar office causes unnecessary confusion. So, we’ve created an all-encompassing acronym to reference this working arrangement:

Please meet TRaD.

How did TRaD come about?

When it comes down to it, three words stuck out to me as the most common ways to describe this way of working. These three terms—telecommuting, remote, and distributed—are the most professionally used and seem to be the most all-encompassing. And so I played with what abbreviations or shortened combinations of these words I could come up with that would be easier to use.

Telecommuting, Remote, and Distributed—or TRaD—work is what stuck for me. And in researching some of the various histories and references to the word “trad,” I liked it even more. Trad is commonly used as a shortened version of “traditional,” and, as I mentioned earlier, a big part of what we do is helping companies and workers re-imagine what the current version of a “traditional” work situation is and how it uses modern workplace technology.

By combining these main terms into TRaD, we’re making a statement that the traditional way of work is changing, and that in the not-too-distant future, telecommuting, remote, and distributed work will be common and accepted.

TRaD is Technologically Rad

If you don’t mind, I’d like to get a little geeky for a minute. One of the references I found when researching uses for the word trad is “technologically rad,” which I think is a fantastic integration of one of my gen-x childhood terms, “rad!”, with a more modern spin. TRaD work is technologically rad in the sense that it’s an awesome way to harness technology to the advantage of so many companies and individuals.

TRaD work offers millions of people a productive, meaningful, and enjoyable way to go about their careers, staying connected across time zones, countries, and continents, all thanks to huge technological advances over the last decade or so.

Technology is helping with this transition. It makes complex communication technologies easily available to all. These technologies help all-in-one-office organizations be more efficient, and help make distributed organizations possible. They enable people to have distributed careers. – John O’Duinn, author of Distributed

And it gives companies and organizations tremendous opportunities for growth, productivity, and advancement, especially if they’re smart enough to deploy a remote work program with intention and forethought.

TRaD Is Also Just Plain Radical

TRaD work is uprooting the traditional 20th century way of doing business. It has overturned the idea that people from the same geographic region need to come together inside one building to get anything meaningful done. It represents a completely different way of thinking about and approaching work, and an acknowledgement that there are different, useful ways to do business.

CEOs have a unique opportunity to lead their teams with conviction. You earn trust from your team based on what you do—not what you say. That is why we give our team the freedom to work from anywhere and be happy. – Brian de Haaff, co-founder and CEO of Aha!

With TRaD work, companies and individuals are learning several key, radical lessons about work:

  • The more freedom professionals have, the more accountable they feel. TRaD work empowers people to work in the ways that are most effective for them.
  • Work-life integration is a business asset. TRaD work lets individuals combine work and life in ways that reduce, or even eliminate, the friction felt between the two in traditional work environments, with big bottom-line benefits.
  • Change can be a very good thing. TRaD work environments support experimentation with organizational structure, communication styles, and productivity that help companies scale and excel.

Learn More About TRaD

Whether you’re already fully immersed in telecommuting, distributed, and remote work or you’re just exploring the idea, we’ve got loads of resources to help you learn more about TRaD.

  1. Attend the TRaD Works Forum! Happening in June 2016, the TRaD Works Conference is all about creating a community event for the companies who are at the forefront of this reality, as well as for those keenly interested to learn how they can advance their organizations’ telecommuting, remote, and distributed work efforts.
  2. Check out’s Remote Company Q&As to learn from over 90 partially or completely remote companies and distributed teams. You’ll get to know why and how they went remote, how they operate virtually, and their best practices for telecommuting success.
  3. Read our remote work blog, with dozens of articles about why companies should go remote, building a remote team, and remote team management.
  4. Share your remote work story. If more than 50 percent of your workforce works remotely and you’re interested in sharing some of your expert knowledge in our Q&A with other leading remote companies, please contact us below.

Finally, feel free to use the term TRaD in your own vocabulary! Help us reduce the clutter and confusion that has caused TRaD work to be underestimated and undervalued. It’s time for TRaD work to be recognized for the the economic, social, and environmental benefits it truly offers!

By Sara Sutton | Categories: Why Go Remote

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