The Remote Work Dictionary – Understanding the Buzzwords

With remote working becoming a reality for millions and millions of people over the past year, there are some buzzwords that you might be hearing popping up regularly whenever remote working is mentioned.

If you have been struggling to keep up with the lingo, you’re not alone. Many newcomers to the remote work world feel confused about some of the terminology used by old-timers. What is telecommuting and is there a difference between that and location-independent working? What on earth are distributed teams, and what does the term asynchronous communication mean?

But don’t worry if you don’t understand everything written above. We cover the most important buzzwords, so you don’t have to keep a Google search tab open and frantically look for the meaning of things whenever you’re in a virtual meeting.

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1. Telecommuting

Perhaps one of the most used terms of 2020, telecommuting refers to an employment arrangement in which employees are allowed to work outside the office. This doesn’t necessarily mean working from home, as it covers other locations such as a coworking space, a library, or a coffee shop.

2. Digital nomad

People who travel around the world and conduct their life in a nomadic manner while also using telecommunications technology to earn their living. Digital numbers are different from telecommuters because they often work remotely from foreign countries.

3. Location independent

This term refers to the ability to live and work wherever you want but should not be confused with the term digital nomad. Being location independent is not about traveling, it’s about a lifestyle that allows you to live and work on your own conditions.

4. Hybrid team

A team that consists of a mix of people who work from a physical office and people who work remotely.

5. Remote work

A general term that refers to someone completing their role in a different location than a physical company office. Remote work is a term that applies to people working from home, but also to those who work from, cafes, libraries, and even though who do it while traveling.

6. Distributed team

A team in which all members work remotely. This could refer to an entire organization or just a specific department within a company.

7. Coworking space 

A building set up with the purpose to provide remote workers with a place to work from. Typically located in central locations, coworking spaces generally include high-speed internet connections and all the basics you would expect from an office.

8. Asynchronous communication

A term that refers to communication occurring in the background. This could refer to making comments in documents, emailing, or interacting with other members of the team in a project management software.

9. Synchronous communication

A synonym for real-time communication, this requires participants to be present and focused, with examples including videoconferences, conference calls, and phone calls.

10. Burnout

A worker who experiences declining work performance and decreased productivity while also expressing apathy and frustration is suffering from burnout.

11. Communication breakdown

This term refers to communication that becomes unclear. It may refer to making assumptions, unclear expectations, ignoring requests, not confirming understanding, and not providing feedback.

12. Getting things done (GTD)

A technique for completing tasks by clarifying, capturing, organizing, reflecting and engaging.

13. Gig economy

A short term project or job that is not part of the permanent employment arrangement. Gig workers are typically self-employed and carry out short-term tasks for various companies. These can range from data entry work to delivery services and everything in between.

14. Scrum meeting

A term associated with agile management that refers to a very short daily meeting during which the members answer the questions efficiently. The questions are “what did you do yesterday?,” “What are you planning on doing today,” and “is there any impediment that might prevent you from accomplishing your goals?.”

15. Video call

A type of real-time call that uses both audio and visual elements so every participant can see and hear everyone else who takes part in the meeting. Calls are generally conducted using software such as Skype or Zoom and require participants to have a working microphone and webcam.

 16. Agile

A term that refers to a project management method that divides tasks into short subtasks and requires frequent progress checks. The method is mostly used for software development but can be employed in other industries as well.

17. Freelancer

A person who works for different companies on a self-employed basis. Freelance workers typically charge by the task or by the hour and often work remotely, either from a home office or a coworking space.

18. Virtual office

A system that provides a wide variety of services that make it possible to work remotely. These may include monthly access to meeting rooms or desk space, a business address, mail for learning, live receptionist services, and a business number. Users can typically choose which services they need and add or remove them depending on their requirements.

19. The Cloud

Also known as online storage, the cloud refers to a cloud computing model that allows users to store digital data such as files and documents and access them at any time via the Internet. The cloud has been a major enabler of remote working because it made it possible for companies to grant specific people access to files and permitted teams to work collaboratively on the same documents.

20. Virtual receptionist

A flexible receptionist service that provides services such as live call answering, appointment scheduling, call forwarding, and general customer service support.

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