Remote Work Glossary
If a company has no physical office location for people to attend as they work – they are “all-remote” or “fully remote”. Examples of this kind of company would include Upwork, Zapier and Basecamp.
This means that the workforce can work from home or any other location (including co-working spaces).
Many all-remote businesses work across large geographical spaces and their workers may be in different time zones or even countries or continents.
For a company to succeed with this business model – they need to pay very careful attention to the tools they select for collaboration and communication.
Annualized Working Hours
Annualized hours means that someone’s work hours are calculated on an annual rather than monthly or weekly basis.
You can then use this figure (which eliminates vacation/annual leave time) to calculate an adjusted weekly target for hours.
Asynchronous Communication Methods
In remote work, it’s often not practical to communicate and expect an immediate response. For example, if one team member is in Canada and another in Australia – one will be sleeping as the other works.
Asynchronous communication tools facilitate such communication. This can be done using Email, Slack, Basecamp, etc.
Blended teams “blend” a group of workers where some work remotely (possibly from home) and others work in an office location.
An example of a company using this blended approach would be Facebook which intends to have half of its workforce working remotely by 2030.
Bricks And Mortar Businesses
The term “bricks and mortar” refers to a physical location. This gives employees somewhere to work from and a place where suppliers, stakeholders and customers can visit to deal with representatives of the business.
The “cloud” refers to computers and storage which is connected to the internet. When data is saved to cloud storage it exists online and can be accessed from anywhere and is always up to date.
This approach also offers security benefits as the data is secured using multiple failsafe options – often far more economically than this could be done in-house.
Examples of Cloud Storage include Google Drive, DropBox. Microsoft’s OneDrive and Amazon’s cloud computing services too.
A co-located team has the majority of team members working out of the same office. They tend to face fewer challenges with respect to remote working as few members of the team are involved in it.
They can easily meet together, bond together and enjoy face-to-face working. However, this type of working costs more and can be less productive than remote working due to the amount of meetings typically held in such environments.
The co-location is the place that a co-located team works out of. It will include all shared facilities and, of course, desk space, etc.
Co-working refers to a situation in which remote workers and freelancers pay to share an office, resources and facilities with other workers and freelancers (who may or may not work for the same company as they do).
This can help to provide structure for remote workers and reduce the impact of the feelings of isolation that many suffer from when working from home.
If a person intends to do co-working they will do it from a co-working space. These spaces usually offer a subscription model for their users – so someone who only occasionally wants to use the space will pay less than someone who wants to work there everyday.
These spaces often offer food and drink, as well as desk space, printing, broadband and other office services. Co-working is very popular with some segments of the remote work community and it is often much cheaper than renting an office space for one person.
Compressed Working Week
This is a form of flexi-time working which allows the worker to squeeze their working week into fewer days. So, for example, if someone is on a compressed working week, they might opt out of a 35-hour 5 day week, and do 2 x 12 hour days and 1 x 11 hour day.
Thus, the employer still gets the same amount of work but the employee can free up more days out of the office.
A conference call is simply a call where the participants (more than two) use either a telephone service or online service to facilitate a group call.
There is no need for a video component of this kind of call but many companies will expect to do this – Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, Slack, etc. can all be used to host such a call.
Conference calls are essential for remote teams that want to ensure they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.
A conference room is a room dedicated to meetings, call taking and planning sessions. It will usually have a booking service to ensure that workers using the room can be left without interruptions.
The idea of dematerialized work or dematerialization refers to the concept of “virtual work” – it requires no physical outputs or physical location instead work is produced digitally from anywhere and delivered online.
A digital nomad is someone who works remotely and travels while they work. They do not need to make a living from their travels, they can work as a coder, a data analyst, a writer, a photographer, etc. as long as their work translates to working remotely.
Most digital nomads opt to work within the borders of their own country or alternatively, they tend to head to low cost destinations where their money will go further.
The legality of digital nomadism can be quite complicated – though there’s no evidence that many digital nomads are being arrested for being illegal immigrants either.
The term “digital work” refers to any work that is carried out on a computer or online software. This is in contrast to “physical work” which was the norm for previous generations.
The digital workplace is the ecosystem in which digital work is done. It can involve anything from using online scheduling to in-depth project management online.
This workplace is designed to facilitate better productivity within remote teams. It should also make it easy to work from almost anywhere as long as there is a net connection.
A digital workspace is a single platform or set of integrated platforms that make it easy for a team to work from anywhere.
A service like Wrike can be used to help manage the digital workspace.
A dispersed team as the name suggests is one where the team is dispersed across a geographical area and are not based out of a single office.
This doesn’t, however, mean that team members have to be far apart from each other. In fact, a team of home workers all working from home in the same neighborhood would still be considered as a dispersed team.
There are specific challenges facing dispersed teams when it comes to collaborating and communicating effectively.
Distance working is simply another term for “remote working” it refers to working at a distance from the office. The term does not give any clue as to whether a person works on this basis full-time or part-time.
Distributed companies have the majority of their workforce working across a distributed geographical area. They may or may not have office locations or a headquarters. However, where possible workers are usually encouraged to work from home or work remotely.
A distributed team is a team that is distributed across a geographical area. The team members may never or very rarely meet in a face-to-face environment.
They will rely heavily on digital tools that allow collaborative work and solid communication. They may also need tools for digital asset management.
Distributed work is work carried out across a geographical area. As with a distributed company, some workers on distributed work may be in a head office and others may work remotely or at satellite offices.
For this kind of work to be effective, it requires a lot of software/technical support and collaboration and communication tools are key in success.
A distributed workforce is the workforce that carries out distributed work. They may all work within a small geographic area or be spread out over time zones or even continents.
This is a form of verbal communication (either written or spoken) which spells out the core message very plainly and clearly.
“No, I won’t be going to your meeting,” for example, is an example of explicit communication – there is no room for misunderstanding here.
Face-To Face Meetings
Face-To-Face Meetings (or F2F meetings in text speak) are simply meetings which bring people together in person. They are not facilitated by the use of virtual conferencing solutions such as Zoom or Skype or Google Hangouts.
Flexi time is a form of working that allows a worker some freedom to choose their own hours. Many flex-time arrangements have a “core hours” pattern which means that all workers can easily communicate at the same time.
Outside of these hours, the workers are free to choose their own hours as long as they make their quota of hours over each time interval (week or month).
Freelance work is carried out by skilled professionals who are not engaged with a contract of employment but rather a contract for services. The person carrying out the work may work on a single contract at a time or may work on many contracts at once.
Freelancing is common in certain industries including marketing, software development, personal assistants, etc.
A freelancer is someone who’s income comes from freelance work. They are, in essence, self-employed and may be considered to be an entrepreneur too.
Freelancing is very popular among the remote work community as a freelancer can set their own hours, place of work, etc. as long as they deliver on the terms of the freelance contract.
Future Of Work
The concept of “future of work” simply refers to projected future trends in work and employment.
A garden office is, as it sounds, an office space that is set up in someone’s garden or yard. A garden office can make it much easier for a remote worker to separate their work from their home life.
The gig economy refers to the current trend of companies to tender work on a freelance basis rather than an employed basis.
A “gig” in the gig economy is a freelance contact and a gig worker is a freelancer. Companies like Uber and Deliveroo tend to use gig based working.
While there is an argument that gig work is a positive thing – many critics point out that gig work often involves poor pay and no employment rights for many gig workers.
A global employer is any employer that is happy to hire and contract across borders. This can be a complicated thing to achieve and may require specific financial, legal and HR resources to facilitate effectively.
A home office is simply an office space in someone’s home. It can be a fixed office space (say, in a converted bedroom) or a temporary one (such as working from the kitchen table). All you need is somewhere to work and an internet connection to have a home office.
Hybrid working is where employees work some time in the office and some time remotely. It is often considered to be the real future of work as opposed to wholly remote working or wholly office based work.
A hybrid company may be either a company that encourages hybrid work or one in which some workers work remotely and others are office-based.
Hybrid teams are those in which the workers have diverse working patterns particularly with reference to time spent in the office. A team member could work completely remotely, always in the office or as a mixture of office and remote work.
There are some serious challenges facing hybrid teams, particularly when it comes to the act of ensuring that everyone is kept in the loop when colleagues who spend more time in the office will find it easier to communicate than those who spend most time remotely.
This kind of company will have plenty of office space for workers and many employees will spend a significant amount of time in the office. They will also, however, have a significant part of the workforce that is fully remote.
Implicit communication is the part of communication which is unspoken/unwritten and which we glean from someone’s tone, expression, body language or subtext.
Implicit communication leaves plenty of room for misunderstandings, sadly.
This is the same as a face-to-face meeting and requires that parties to the meeting be physically present rather than working over the internet.
This is a form of “synchronous” communication which allows team members to quickly talk to their colleagues and get answers in real time. Slack is a very popular tool for this.
This idea refers to the complete ecosystem of internet-connectible devices. This can be anything from your computer to your car to your Amazon Echo to wearables, etc.
Knowledge workers are those that primarily work using knowledge and information in order to create new intellectual property, solve problems or set strategy.
This is in contrast to work that is done on a more formulaic basis such as working on a production line.
This is a service which provides reception services to more than one business – allowing them to save the cost of a full-time resource to man their reception desk (either physically or virtually). They will answer and redirect calls and make appointments for the business.
This is any meeting that takes place away from the company’s core office. For fully virtual teams in person meetings of any kind will be “off-site” whereas for those who work from an office – the majority of meetings they attend are likely to be “on-site”.
An office environment is a place of work where the workers are held accountable to certain professional standards as they conduct their responsibilities. They contain the tools and devices required to carry out that work.
This is the process of outsourcing work overseas to a company contracted to deliver the same work but at a lower cost.
An on-site meeting is one held at the company’s main/usual offices where a person works normally.
Online Password Vault
This is a tool such as OnePass which allows a worker to store all their various internet passwords in one place with enough security to ensure that they do not get copied, leaked, etc.
Online storage is any kind of data storage facility that is connected to the internet for access by a user or group of users. It has an overlap with cloud storage but online storage does not need to take advantage of cloud computing.
Outsourcing is the act of hiring a third-party to conduct specific tasks or processes for the business. It is commonly conducted to save money or to rapidly increase capacity that is not currently available within the business or for short periods of time.
Real-Time Communications Apps
A real-time communication app such as MS Teams or Slack allows people to communicate in “real-time”. That is a response can be sent and seen/heard immediately. These tools are essential for facilitating effective remote work.
This is a software tool that allows someone to access a device that is not present at that location.
A remote employee is an employee that works either some or all of their contracted time away from the office. Some remote employees may work from home, others may work in coffee shops, vans, coworking spaces and other useful locations.
Remote hiring is the process by which remote or home-working employees are recruited. This tends to be done by HR professionals with specific expertises in remote employment. They may use specific software tools for this or use standard tools such as MS Teams, Google Hangouts, etc. to conduct interviews, etc.
Remote Friendly/Remote OK
These two terms signify that a company is happy to hire workers that work remotely either all of the time or some of the time.
Remote work is work conducted by a worker that is not done on a company’s premises. In most cases, the term is used to describe the work done by remote workers.
Remote Worker/Free-Range Worker
A remote worker is an employee that spends some or all of the time working from home or from a location of their choosing which is not their employer’s premises. This has become a very common form of work during the pandemic, however, it’s worth noting that trend is reversing as economies open up.
Remote-first refers to businesses that prioritize remote working where possible and which actively discourage office working unless it is essential. These businesses invest a lot in software and hardware to facilitate this kind of work.
A work retreat is a work meeting between employees and their managers and leaders that facilitates inter-team relationships and bonding. While some work may be done at a retreat the focus is usually on team building and potentially motivational activities too.
A satellite office is any office of a company that is not their main office/headquarters. The bigger a company is the more satellite offices it will usually have.
Single Source Of Truth (SSOT)
An SSOT is a software and hardware set up that ensures all documentation is kept up to date and filed in the same place. This ensures that everyone in a remote team is working from the same data sets and prevents duplicate working and helps to deliver effective decision making.
Software As A Service (SaaS)
Software as a service is any software provided on a subscription basis rather than on a permanent license agreement. It is often accessed via the Cloud.
A solopreneur is an individual running their own business without any staff to assist them in the management of that business.
Staying In The Loop
Staying in the loop refers to the act of keeping up to date with developments in the work environment so that you can contribute maximally. This can be aided for remote workers by the use of effective communication tools.
This is the same as real-time communication and involves team members talking/messaging back and forth as with any ordinary face-to-face conversation.
Telecommuting is the act of working over the phone away from a centralized work location/office. As you might expect this requires software and hardware as well as internet access.
Time Management Apps
A time management app is a productivity tool that helps remote workers (and office workers) better manage their time and their approach to their workload. The app may also help with other tasks such as data storage and note taking and reporting.
A video chat is any conversation that involves a video element. Popular tools for this include Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, etc.
Virtual Assistant (VA)
A virtual assistant carries out the role of “personal assistant” virtually. They will work on an array of tasks as set by the person they are assisting. The work carried out by someone in this kind of role can vary dramatically as can compensation for it.
A virtual machine is a machine created in cyberspace that can be used to test programs, operating systems, etc. with no risk of virus contamination, etc.
A virtual office service provides some of the facilities of a traditional office but without needing a full-time rental agreement or employees. This can include mail receiving services, VAs, virtual receptionists and even warehousing space.
Virtual Phone System (VPS)
A VPS is a cloud-based phone system which lets users make business calls from their laptops, tablets and mobile devices. This can be very useful for distributed teams.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN is a secure encrypted connection to the internet or other network. It is an essential component of remote work for those working with sensitive data.
This is a receptionist who works remotely rather than in a company office. The virtual receptionist still answers the phone, transfers calls, etc.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
VoIP is a specific protocol which allows voice calls to take place over the internet rather than using standard telephony equipment.
Work From Home
Work from home describes an employee who works, when they are away from the office, exclusively from home. This is a form of remote work but the employee cannot work from a location of their own choosing only from home.
Work Management Software (WMS)
WMS is any software that helps somebody better perform work-related tasks.
A workation is where somebody works remotely and combines their vacation with work. This is often how people “dip their toes” into the digital nomad lifestyle or simply enjoy a few weeks out of the office while still remaining productive.