34 min read

Remote Work Glossary | 131 Definitions

Remote Work Glossary | 131 Definitions

This remote work glossary was originally published on October 19, 2021, and is regularly updated for accuracy and detail. If you notice a term missing from this page, please let us know via [email protected]!


Just 24 months ago, remote working was a niche concept, reserved mainly for tech companies and digital nomads. In just a few years, remote work has gone from a small niche to an inevitable cultural shift in the way companies operate and people work. According to Buffer's 2021 State of Remote Work report, 97.6% of workers would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the remainder of their careers.

And this is just the beginning. Google Trends shows how more and more people are looking for a remote job than ever before. If you're one of them, make sure to read our guide on how to find a remote job.

Google Trends search for "remote jobs"

Unsurprisingly, one of the main benefits of remote working is the unrivaled flexibility it provides. Remote workers are no longer tied down to physical locations, and companies switching to a remote-friendly model open up an entirely new global talent pool.

Remote work has changed the way we work and where we work. But it's also changed the vernacular... Like anything new, one of the main challenges of remote work for employers and employers alike is getting accustomed to the new working culture and the different terms and jargon that come with it.

We've prepared the ultimate remote work glossary to make the transition easier! Here you'll find every remote work-related term, jargon, acronym, and buzzword with a clear definition.


Man on phone completing 2FA

#

2FA

2FA stands for two-factor authentication.

One of the most common challenges remote employers face is navigating information security risks. 2FA is a user authentication method that adds an additional layer of cybersecurity protection. Along with a password, 2FA requests a second authentication token, such as a one-time code sent to the users’ mobile, to verify the user when logging in.

Have you ever had to wait for a text message or an email from a service to log in? This is 2FA in action and an easy way for companies to bolster up their information security when hiring remotely.

Some common third-party 2FA providers include Duo, Authy (by Twilio), and Auth0.

32-hour workweek

A 32-hour workweek, also known as a "4-day workweek" is a flexible work schedule that only requires employees to work 32 hours per week instead of the standard 40. Employees still retain all the benefits as a regular full-time role but have more flexibility and time to spend on things outside of work.

Some remote companies, such as Bolt, Basecamp and Treehouse, have implemented 32-hour workweeks in an effort to help employees find a healthier work-life balance, maintain motivation, and focus on doing their best work.

We've put together a comprehensive guide on companies with 32-hour workweeks if you want to learn more.

4-day work week

A four-day workweek is an arrangement where a workplace has its employees work four days per week instead of five. This may seem like a major shift in how we think about and approach work but there is good evidence to support it.

A 2014 study from Stanford University suggests productivity plummets after working 50 hours. Other experts suggest 35 hours is the optimal work time before productivity declines.


Team in meeting

A

Agile

Agile refers to a project management (usually software development) methodology that focuses on an interactive approach. Popularized by companies like Atlassian, Agile approaches helps co-workers break up large projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. This is a particularly useful approach for remote teams because it allows for more asynchronous communication and collaboration.

All-Remote

All-remote, or fully-remote, is a term commonly used to describe a company that has committed to remote work and does not or no longer has physical offices. All remote companies are usually spread across the globe and are unrestricted by time zones, state, or country.

Some notable all-remote companies include GitLab, Basecamp, Upwork, and Zapier. However, we’re seeing a seismic shift in companies that are shifting from part-remote to all-remote. Dropbox, for example, announced that they’re committing to an all-remote model.

Annualized hours

Annualized hours refers to a type of employment contract where an employee’s total working hours for the year are outlined or defined, but the schedule is completely up to the employee.

Instead of following a conventional 9-5, 5-days per week schedule, employees have the additional freedom to choose which days and hours they want to work. This form of asynchronous communication and working is popular with remote workers and can be advantageous to employers when demand is seasonal.

Asynchronous

Asynchronous means not existing or occurring at the same time. In the context of remote working, asynchronous is usually referring to asynchronous communication — a style of working where an immediate response is not required or expected between workers.

Asynchronous communication is great for remote workers, particularly when collaborating with others across multiple time zones because it removes the self-imposed requirement for immediacy.

Asynchronous communication allows for remote workers to work more independently and with less distraction, which ultimately can lead to better remote collaboration.

"We have people working all sorts of different hours and from all sorts of different places at Basecamp. That alone makes it hard to enforce a lot of tightly-coupled workflows during the day, but that’s a feature not a bug. Most of the work you do at Basecamp shouldn’t require you to be in constant communication throughout the entire day with someone."

– 'How We Work' from the Basecamp Employee Handbook

Read our complete guide to asynchronous communication.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality is an enhanced version of the real physical world through computer-generated perceptual information. Not to be confused with virtual reality, augmented reality adds to what you’d usually see, instead of replacing it.

Augmented reality is usually used to enhance natural situations or ways of working with technology, such as a video meeting where co-workers are added to a virtual meeting room.


Man purchasing something online

B

Blended Team

Often used interchangeably with “hybrid team”, a blended team is a mixed team of co-workers who work together remotely and from the office. It’s a hybrid remote model that provides flexibility for both. Most remote companies are blended teams. Companies like Coinbase, Zillow, Google, Twitter, Square, and Shopify have joined the growing list of remote startups and companies declaring staff can work remotely permanently even when their offices reopen.

Blended Workweek

Similar to blended teams, a blended workweek refers to a remote-friendly structure that allows employees to work remotely or from the office. This flexibility allows for the best of both worlds and is becoming an increasingly popular hybrid remote model.

Blogger

A blogger refers to someone who is a writer, photographer, podcaster, or other media content creator that self-publishes their work online. Blogs have been around since 1994, but only recently has it emerged as a popular way for digital nomads and remote workers to make money online. Popular bloggers can monetize their work through paid ads, product placements, email lists, and even though services such as Substack to charge readers an ongoing subscription fee to read their writing.

Boardroom

Traditionally, a boardroom is a large dedicated room in which a board of directors of a company meets regularly to discuss and make decisions. In the context of remote working, boardrooms are large meeting rooms usually located in co-working spaces that are available for hire. When in-person meetings are necessary for remote teams, these meeting rooms are a convenient way to allocate a space for face-to-face collaboration, without the ongoing expense of maintaining and leasing a commercial office.

Brick-and-Mortar Business

Brick-and-mortar businesses are “traditional” businesses that require a physical storefront, such as a cafe, a showroom for an online store, or a physical storefront for a business. The name is derived from the physical bricks and mortar used to build these buildings. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline of many brick-and-mortar stores, as more and more businesses join the online e-commerce revolution.

Business Center

A business center is essentially a large (and usually more luxurious) co-working space with shared services, such as meeting rooms, receptionist support, and general assistants. Business centers are popular “outposts” for remote-friendly companies, and allow remote workers or traveling employees access to a physical office or desk when they need to, without the cost of maintaining a central office and traditional commercial lease.

Business centers are commonly attached to large hotels to allow employees access to facilities when they’re staying in the hotel.


Server room

C

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage, also known as “online storage”, is a type of data storage where files and data are stored in the “cloud”. This means they’re stored across multiple servers all around the world. A notoriously difficult concept for older generations to grasp, cloud storage allows users to store, access, and edit their data almost anywhere and from multiple different devices.

Cloud storage is only a relatively new technology, but decreasing storage costs and increasing data transfer speeds have made it the most popular way for remote teams and software companies to operate. Choosing cloud storage allows teams to collaborate instantaneously, regardless of their location. Popular cloud storage examples used by remote teams include Dropbox, Google Docs, Pitch, Airtable, and Notion.

Commute

Commute refers to the regular travel distance between an employee’s home and place of work. In the U.S., the average commute is about 27 minutes one way. This means over the course of a year, Americans are giving up almost ten full days to their commute.

If this sounds absurd, it’s because it is. One of the great benefits of remote work is the control over your commute — time spent commuting is time lost spent with family or doing things you love.

Compliance

In general, compliance means conforming to laws and regulations. Regulatory compliance is important for remote employers, as they need to ensure they’re aware of, and comply with, common laws and regulations across different countries and regions they employee remote workers in.

Co-Located Team

A co-located team is similar to a blended team but is made up of groups of employees that work remotely around the world from a handful of different locations (as opposed to spread out across individual locations). Co-located teams share many of the same facilities and office spaces and are popular with large remote-friendly companies because they allow the company to set up “hubs” around the world and do not face the same many of the challenges that fully remote companies face.

Co-Location

Co-location describes a shared office or hub where remote workers from a particular location work. Some companies, such as Stripe, have co-locations all around the world where remote employees can share the same facilities and meet face-to-face.

Compressed Working Week

A compressed working week is a flexible remote work arrangement where employees have the option to condense their 40-hour week into 4 days instead of 5. This is different from a 4-day working week, because employees still have to meet 40-hours. A compressed working week is often optional, allowing employees to work longer hours during days in the week in return for a 3-day weekend.

Read our article on companies with 4 day work weeks and our guide to the compressed workweek.

Conference Call

Traditionally, a conference call referred to a telephone with several people at the same time — often during a business conference or meeting. Today, “conference call” is used interchangeably with "video calls" and "video conferencing" and used to describe a virtual meeting with several participants. Zoom and Google Meet are two examples of popular collaboration software.

Conference Room

A conference room is a meeting room designated for collaborating and meetings. Conference rooms are usually quiet, private spaces that are left free by default and available for employees to book for important meetings or video conferencing calls without distractions.

Co-working

Co-working revolves around the concept of shared space, resources, and community (with the 'co' in co-working taken from community). Co-working is a popular way for businesses and freelancers to work because they promote collaboration and are often more cost-effective than traditional central office spaces. For remote workers, co-working is a great way to network and meet new people.

Co-working Space

A co-working space refers to a shared office space and arrangement where workers from different companies share facilities and space to save costs. This is a popular and attractive model for remote employees, freelancers, and startups because it’s flexible, easy, collaborative, and generally cheaper than traditional central office spaces.

Co-working spaces have surged in recent years, particularly in remote work and digital nomad hubs around the world. They allow remote workers to access world-class facilities, high-speed internet, and desk space in return for a tiered subscription fee. All the benefits of office life, without any of the commitments and long-term leases.

Creator Economy

The creator economy refers to the rise in bloggers, content creators, social media influencers, and online personalities who can monetize their audience online. This movement is becoming more mainstream, as making money online is becoming more permissionless and popular. Joe Rogan is a popular example of the rise in the creator economy, and it’s speculated that he makes around $30 million per year from his podcast and YouTube revenue.


Remote worker at desk

D

Dematerialization

At its simplest, dematerialization refers to the increasingly “digitization” of work as the world becomes more digital. Scanning old documents is an example of dematerialization, but so is the rise of remote work and the decoupling of work from physical locations. The rise in knowledge work and being able to work from home with just a computer is a large driver of dematerialization.

Deep Work

Deep work is a concept initially coined by Cal Newport to describe the ability to perform focused, undistracted work. It was popularized by his bestselling book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. In Cal’s words:

“Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

How often have you finished a long workweek only to feel you didn’t accomplish anything meaningful or productive? In a world of infinite distractions, deep work is becoming an increasingly rare superpower. Working from home and away from open-plan offices is a great way to focus and work deeply. A distraction-free environment is necessary for deep work and one of the pillars of increased employee productivity — a common benefit of remote work.

Digital Nomad

A digital nomad is a person or employee who is location-independent and uses this independence to live a nomadic lifestyle — often traveling while working. Being a digital nomad doesn’t necessarily mean you’re self-employed or a freelancer. Many digital nomads are still employed full time by remote-friendly companies, but leverage remote technology and collaboration tools to work from anywhere in the world, taking advantage of favorable exchange rates and cheaper costs of living.

Traveling the world and making a living online with remote work may sound like a dream, but it's now more accessible than ever. We’ve made a list of the top digital nomad visas from all around the world.

Digital Nomad Visa

A digital nomad visa is a document or program that gives someone the legal right to work remotely while residing away from their country of permanent residence. Another term for digital nomad visa is remote work visa.

Read our guide to digital nomad visas and how to apply for them.

Digital Work

The term ‘digital work’ is often used as an extension of the modern cloud-based workspace to describe remote work that is entirely virtual and can be carried out from anywhere in the world with just a computer and internet connection.

Digital Workplace

The digital workplace is the virtual, modern version of the traditional workplace. Gone are the days of fax machines and paper trails, collaboration software such as Zoom and Google Meet and cloud storage software such as Dropbox and Google Docs have revolutionized the way we work. The rise of the digital workplace increases productivity by making processes infinitely scalable. Collaboration tools have also paved the way for the remote work revolution, making it easier for companies and employees to work from anywhere.

Digital Workspace

A digital workspace is a software or platform that allows teams to collaborate, organize, and manage work from anywhere. Digital workspaces are most commonly cloud-based. Some common digital workspace platforms include Basecamp, Linear, Notion, Asana, GitLab, and Trello.

The rise in cloud-based digital workspaces makes it easier for teams spread all across the world to work together in real time, without having to worry about version control or physical documents.

Distance Work

Distance work can be used interchangeably with remote work to describe any type of remote work arrangement that is independent of location. Distance work can be completed by remote workers outside of a traditional office environment, such as from a home office or co-working space.

Distributed Company

A distributed company is a remote-friendly company in which employees have the freedom to work from wherever they are comfortable and productive. Distributed companies don’t necessarily need to be 100% remote, and are more commonly a hybrid of physical offices and remote employees.

The COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of remote work and more companies are making the transition. Early on in the pandemic, Twitter and Square declared that staff can work remotely permanently. Most of Shopify’s employees will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over”. Brian Armstrong wrote that Coinbase will be embracing a remote-first culture.

Distributed Team

Often used interchangeably with “dispersed team”, a distributed team refers to a group of co-workers who are remotely connected and spread out, rather than localized to a single office or space.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the team is spread all across the world. Distributed teams can be a mix of employees working remotely from home offices, co-working spaces, and even traditional offices. Distributed teams rely on digital collaboration tools to work together and communicate.

Distributed Work

Distributed work refers to a style of working where employees are not based in a centralized office. Distributed work can be a combination of remote workers and office workers, and requires strong communication and collaboration skills from employees to work well.

Distributed Workforce

A distributed workforce is a group of employees from a remote-friendly company who are spread across multiple different locations. Distributed workforces can be spread all across the world and across multiple time zones.

​​Twilio is an example of a distributed workforce, with over 5,000 employees in 20+ countries and counting!


Remote worker at desk

E

EOD: End Of Day

EOD means “end of day” and is a common acronym used to describe the end of a business day or the point at which trading ceases.

EOM: End Of Message

EOM means "end of message" and is typically used in email subject lines to communicate that the body of the email doesn’t contain anything extra. This saves the recipient time by letting them know they don’t need to open the email. For example:

Subject: I’ll be in at 9 am today. EOM.

EOT: End Of Thread

EOT means "end of thread" and is commonly used on messaging and social media platforms to communicate the end of a string of messages.

ESP: Email Service Provider

An email service provider (ESP) is a service that allows marketers and businesses to send bulk emails to lists of subscribers. Some common ESPs include Mailchimp, HubSpot, ConvertKit, and Twilio.

Expat

Expat is a colloquial term used to describe a person who lives outside of the country they were born. It is short for 'expatriate.' The term ‘expat’ is commonly used to refer to remote workers who are professionals, skilled workers, or artists working abroad.

Explicit Communication

Explicit communication refers to communication (either verbally or in writing) that is clear and direct. It’s a style of communication that leaves as little room as possible for misunderstanding or ambiguity.

An example of explicit communication is “do this” and “don’t do this”, which is direct and straightforward — there is no need for tone analysis or body language. Explicit communication is particularly useful for company handbooks and for onboarding new employees in remote work companies because it is straightforward and as efficient as possible.

A great example of a handbook written in this style is Basecamp’s Employee Handbook.


Team in face to face meeting

F

F2F: Face to Face

F2F means “face to face” and, unsurprisingly, means to meet in real life. It’s a common acronym used to describe an in-person meeting rather than a remote video call or virtual meeting.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Fear of missing out is an acronym used to describe a feeling of mild anxiety brought on by the idea that something exciting or interesting is happening elsewhere without you. It’s a negative psychological phenomenon often exacerbated by social media but is also a common challenge some people face when transitioning to remote work.

Flex Time / Flexi Time

Flex time or flexi time is a common flexible work policy that allows employees more freedom to structure their day, as long as they meet the total number of hours required.

Employees want the freedom to work when they want and flexi time roles allow more flexibility to fit in other commitments, such as school pick-up times or preferred working hours. Flexible working hours are one of the primary benefits of remote work.

Freelance Work

Freelance work is used to describe a type of contractual or short-term work that doesn’t require a long-term commitment. It usually revolves around short-term contracts. Freelance work allows companies to engage the services of a global talent pool of remote workers without the long-term commitments — perfect for smaller, specialized projects or seasonal work that isn’t needed all year round.

Freelancer

A freelancer (or freelance worker) is a term commonly used to describe a worker who is self-employed and chooses to work for an employer independently or on a contract basis.

Because freelance work is usually a less formal arrangement, with no long-term contracts, freelancers have more flexibility and freedom to structure their working commitments and even pick and choose projects they want to work on. Highly specialized or skilled freelancers can work for multiple companies at once and can charge a much higher rate than what they’d be paid for working full-time.

Freelance work has always been synonymous with remote work and tends to attract people for the same reasons. In general, it’s more flexible than full-time work and comes with freedoms that full-time roles do not, but can lack some benefits and stability.

Future of Work

The future of work is a phrase that is used to describe changes in how work will change in the future. Ambiguous by nature, the future of work is influenced by societal, social, technological, and generational shifts, and is a prediction based on data and trends.

The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly changed the future of work faster than anyone could have predicted. According to McKinsey’s Future of Work after COVID-19 report, the pandemic has “accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, with up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations.”


Garden office

G

Garden Office

As the name hints, a garden office is an office in a garden. Self-contained mini offices have become a trend for home offices, and a great solution if you don’t have a spare room in the house.

Separating your workspace from your living space is also a great way to facilitate more focus and remove distractions from your remote workday.

Gig Economy

The gig economy is a term used to describe the free market labor system in which freelance, contract, and “quick” short-term contracts are becoming increasingly common. The gig economy is essentially the modern economic shift away from permanent employment arrangements.

Workers in the “gig” economy are usually independent freelancers or contractors. Companies opt to hire independent (and usually remote) workers to take on “gigs” and projects that would otherwise go to full-time employees.

Much like remote work, this trend in work is growing because it provides many benefits for both the employer and the employee — notably, more flexibility and freedom. The Gig Economy is forecasted to grow by more than 17% per year to $455 billion in 2023, according to Mastercard.

Global Employer

Companies referred to as being a “global employer” are organizations that are remote-friendly and open to hiring employees from multiple different countries. While transitioning to becoming a global employer comes with challenges — notably time zones, regulatory and financial considerations — it opens up the available talent pool to the entire world and unlocks potential cost savings. This can be hugely advantageous and allows companies to build up a competitive advantage over companies that have been slow to move on remote work.


Remote worker at desk

H

Happy Hours

Usually, happy hour is a marketing term for a time when a bar or restaurant offers discounts on drinks. In the context of remote work, the term usually refers to a set time daily or during the week where co-workers engage or interact with each other in a more informal setting — usually via a video chat. Happy hours are a great way to help team members bond, stay productive and motivated, and help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation — all key challenges that remote teams face.

Home Office

A home office is any space in a house that has been set up for long-term remote work. Setting up a home office doesn’t necessarily mean a dedicated room — it can just be a desk in a room. One of the benefits of remote work is that you only really need a desk, computer, and reliable internet connection to create your own home office.

Hybrid Company

“Hybrid company” or “hybrid model” are terms often used interchangeably with “distributed team” and refer to a company or organization that is remote-friendly. Hybrid companies allow for both remote work and in-office work.

Many large companies are predicted to adopt a hybrid model as remote work becomes the new normal. Some of the largest employers in the world including Spotify, Salesforce, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have coalesced around a hybrid company model.

Although not everyone is a fan of this approach. GitLab’s CEO, Sid Sijbrandij, who leads a 100% remote team and recently IPO’d called this approach the “worst of both worlds”, highlighting that it can create a divide between remote and non-remote employees.

Hybrid Teams

Often used interchangeably with “blended team”, a hybrid team is a mixed team of co workers who work together remotely and from the office. Some employees might be a mix of both, while some may be 100% remote or 100% in-office.

Hybrid teams are a remote work model that provides flexibility for both camps. Most remote companies are hybrid teams. Companies like Spotify, Coinbase, Zillow, Google, Twitter, Square, and Shopify have joined the growing list of remote startups and companies declaring staff can work remotely permanently even when their offices reopen.

Hybrid Remote

Hybrid remote companies are remote-friendly organizations that have one or more physical offices, but also permit some or all of their employees to work from home if it suits them. This remote work model allows for more flexibility and freedom.


Remote worker on chair

I

Independent Contractor

An independent contractor is an individual or business hired for a short period of time to undertake work or a project. Independent contractors and freelancers are the backbone of the rising gig economy and are often highly specialized or highly skilled workers who work on specific projects for companies in need. Hiring independent contractors are usually more expensive for companies in the short term, but they provide the freedom and flexibility of hiring skilled workers without the long-term commitment of full-time hires.

Similarly, independent contractors have the freedom and flexibility to take on as much or as little work as they need to and can pick and choose which projects they want to work on and how much to charge for their services.

In-person Meeting

As the name suggests, an in-person meeting is remote work terminology that describes a meeting that happens in real life, rather than over the phone, video chat, or in writing.

Instant Message

Instant message is often abbreviated by the acronym IM. It is a form of chat messaging in real-time and a popular informal way for teams to communicate without having to book more formal meetings or send emails. In a workplace, IMs are usually considered a more informal and synchronous way of discussing and collaborating.

Popular examples used by remote teams include Slack, WhatsApp, Discord, and Microsoft Teams.

Implicit Communication

Implicit communication is the opposite of explicit communication. While explicit communication refers to clear and direct communication (things that are “said”), implicit communication refers to everything else — all the nonverbal elements such as choice of words, body language, facial expressions, tone, communication style, and immediacy of information — that help imply what we mean or how we’re feeling. Essentially, things that are “not said”.

Communicating can be complex and open to interpretation, and implicit communication can be a useful tool to get across messages in a professional environment that are more nuanced.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The term Internet of Things (IoT) is any network of “things” that are connected via the internet through sensors, software, and other technologies. These “things” are usually devices and tools in the home or office such as smartphones, computers, smartwatches, appliances, speakers, TVs, and more recently, cars.

IRL: In Real Life

IRL is an acronym for “in real life”. Originally a gamer term, IRL has entered the remote work lexicon to describe interactions and meetings that are face-to-face.


Remote worker at desk

K

Knowledge Worker

A knowledge worker is a catch-all term to describe a person whose job involves handling or using information. Most white-collar workers today are considered knowledge workers because they use data and information (“knowledge”) to solve problems and complete strategic tasks (“work”).


Two colleagues in a video call

L

Live Receptionist

A live receptionist (also known as a virtual receptionist) performs front office tasks and duties such as phone answering, call directing, and appointment scheduling. The main difference between a traditional receptionist and a live receptionist is that they are usually remote or “virtual” — real people hired by companies to avoid the costly investment of hiring someone full-time.

Location independent

Location independence means not being tied to a single geographic location for any reason. In the context of remote work, location independence refers to work that has been decoupled from location. Location independent workers and jobs can be performed remotely from anywhere with a computer and Internet.


Empty meeting room

M

Meeting Room

A meeting room is a designated room for collaborating and meetings. Meeting rooms are usually quiet, private spaces that are left free by default and available for employees to book for important meetings or calls without distractions.

In co-working spaces and business centers, meeting rooms are made available for tenants to book or hire for a specific time.


Team in video meeting

O

Offshoring

Offshoring is the process of “outsourcing” or basing processes or services overseas. Offshoring is usually undertaken by companies to take advantage of lower manufacturing and labor costs.

Offsite Meeting

An offsite meeting, also known as a “team retreat” or just “offsite”, is simply a meeting that takes place outside of the office. Many companies host offsite meetings to plan, share accomplishments/celebrate, or to help team members bond — the physical separation from the office can often help employees unwind and feel more comfortable.

Office Environment

An office environment is the setting and physical conditions in which you perform your job. This doesn’t necessarily mean a traditional central office with desks, chairs, and meeting rooms. Office environments differ greatly between jobs, and for remote workers, the office environment may simply be your desk in the living room!

Onsite Meeting

The antonym of “offsite meeting”, onsite meetings are simply meetings organized inside a companies’ office space.

Online Password Vaults

A password vault, often called a password manager, is a cloud-based software program that keeps your passwords in a secure digital location. Password vaults allow you to safely encrypt all your passwords across all your devices under one “master” password.

Cybersecurity is an often-overlooked challenge of working remotely. Online password vaults are a great tool to help remote companies and remote workers securely manage login credentials in one place.

The team at Himalayas uses and loves 1Password. Some other popular password vaults include LastPass, Dashlane, and Keeper.

Online Storage

Online storage, also known as “cloud storage”, is a type of data storage where files and data are stored in the “cloud”. This means they’re stored across multiple servers all around the world. A notoriously difficult concept for older generations to grasp, cloud storage allows users to store, access, and edit their data almost anywhere and from multiple different devices.

Cloud storage is only a relatively new technology, but decreasing storage costs and increasing data transfer speeds have made it the most popular way for remote teams and software companies to operate. Choosing cloud storage allows teams to collaborate instantaneously, regardless of their location. Popular cloud storage examples used by remote teams include Dropbox, Google Docs, Pitch, Airtable, and Notion.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is the practice of hiring another business or individual outside to perform services or create goods that are usually performed by the company's employees.

While the term usually refers to offloading manufacturing tasks, it can also refer to the economic shift towards hiring independent freelancers and contractors to perform tasks and work usually undertaken by full-time staff.

Outsourcing can be a great way to cut costs, find specialized workers, or make up for a lack of internal resources or employees.


Remote worker using Slack

R

Real Time Communication Apps

Real time communication apps are software and tools that allow teams to communicate and “chat” in real-time. Real time communication apps, such as Slack, WhatsApp, Discord, and Microsoft Teams, are an informal and synchronous way of discussing and collaborating quickly. They’ve become an invaluable tool for both remote and traditional companies.

Remote Desktop

A remote desktop (or “Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)”) refers to software that allows a computer’s desktop to be operated remotely from anywhere in the world. Essentially, it’s an application that allows you or an authorized person to “take over” your computer.

Remote desktop applications are particularly useful for remote teams, allowing IT support to remotely help diagnose and fix issues on employee computers without physically being in the same office.

Remote Employee

A remote employee is simply an employee of a company that works from a location other than the main company office. This can be from home, a co-working space, or a shared office. Remote work is often an attractive option for remote employees and digital nomads because it allows them to skip the daily commute to the office and work from wherever they please.

Remote Hiring

Remote hiring refers to the process of recruiting, interviewing, and ultimately hiring employees for a location-independent role. Remote hiring means companies are not restricted by geographical boundaries when looking for talent, allowing them to increase the pool of potential candidates — one of the main benefits of remote work.

If you’re an employer, we’ve put together a guides on how to attract, hire remote employees, and onboard remote talent.

If you’re a remote worker, check out our tips on how to find a remote job and our list of the best remote job boards.

Remote OK

Remote OK is a commonly used term to describe a company or job listing that is open to remote work.

Remote Work

Remote work is a flexible working style that lets you work outside of the traditional office environment. Remote work is work that can be done from anywhere and doesn’t necessarily need to be in a traditional office.

We’ve also written a more in-depth dive into what remote work is.

Remote Worker

A remote worker is someone who is employed by a company but works outside of the traditional office work environment. Remote workers can also be digital nomads, freelancers, and contractors not employed full-time, but still working remotely from anywhere in the world.

Remote workers benefit from this flexible working style by skipping the daily commute to the office and working from wherever they please which gives them a better work life balance.

Remote Work Challenges

Remote work challenges are the common issues and problems that remote employees and employees face. Challenges include overworking, collaboration, loneliness, and distractions at home.

Remote Work Myths

Remote work myths are stories that employees or employers tell themselves about remote work that aren't necessarily true. Traditional employers, companies, and even employees can be apprehensive because of these misconceptions.

Remote Work Skills

Remote work skills are a set of tangible and intangible skills that are essential to productivity in a remote work environment. Some important skills required for remote work include: being accountable, a self-starter, discipline, organization, problem-solving, punctuality, adaptability, effective communication, and strong time management.

Remote Work Visa

A remote work visa is a document or program that gives someone the legal right to work remotely while residing away from their country of permanent residence. Another term for remote work visa is digital nomad visa.

Read our guide to remote work visas and how to apply for them.

Remote-First

A remote-first company is a company that prioritizes a remote working model, encouraging employees to work from home or remotely by default. Remote-first companies usually don’t have physical offices, which helps them save on costs and recruit from a larger global pool of talent all around the world.

Some notable remote-first companies include GitLab, who recently IPO’d and wrote one of the definitive remote work and employee handbooks, Zapier, Slack, Buffer, Webflow, Ghost, Basecamp, Doist, and Hotjar.

“Succeeding in a remote-first world depends on a fundamental reimagining of work and the employee experience. The tools and technology employees work on, and the culture and norms they work with, are going to look different. This is the time to reinvent the way we work, communicate and collaborate.”

— Robby Kwok, SVP of People at Slack

Learn more about remote-first vs. remote-friendly.

Remote-Friendly

A remote-friendly company is a distributed company in which employees have the freedom to work from wherever they are comfortable and productive, which usually results in a healthier work life balance. Remote-friendly companies don’t necessarily need to be 100% remote and are more commonly a hybrid of physical offices and remote employees.

The COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of remote work and more companies are making the transition. Companies like Coinbase, Zillow, Google, Twitter, Square, and Shopify have joined the growing list of remote startups and companies declaring staff can work remotely permanently even when their offices reopen.

Learn more about remote-friendly vs. remote-first.

Retreat

Work retreats (also known as staff retreats or team retreats) are team events organized by companies that are usually held over several days and treated like a holiday.

Most work retreats are used to boost morale and for team-building, but they’re also useful for employees and management to strategize, plan, and brainstorm ideas.

Quite often, work retreats are quarterly or annual events that help bring everyone together, particularly for remote-friendly companies with employees who may not have met each other face-to-face before.


Team in scrum meeting

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Satellite Office

A satellite office is a term used to describe a secondary or separate office that a company has outside of its main location(s). Many large hybrid companies set up satellite offices around the world in popular remote work hubs as a way for employees to come together while still working remotely.

Scrum Meeting

“Scrum” is a popular framework that helps teams work together and collaborate. The name comes from the term in rugby and is more common in tech companies, particularly software development teams.

A scrum meeting, also known as a “standup”, is a short daily or weekly 10-20 minute meeting that brings teams together to plan projects, discuss and remove obstacles, and collaborate more efficiently towards a common goal. In these meetings, team members will share what they’re working on, estimate how long it will take, and discuss any problems they’ve run into.

Single Source of Truth (SSoT)

Single source of truth is a concept used to ensure that everyone in a company or team maintains, and has access to, the same data and information to make decisions.

Maintaining a single source of truth, such as a single file that everyone collaborates on, ensures there is as little confusion as possible and prevents individuals from overlapping or doubling up on work unnecessarily. Collaborative tools and cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox, Google Docs, Pitch, Airtable, and Notion make it easier than ever for remote teams to collaborate on projects together while maintaining a single source of truth.

SMART Goal

A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting and a framework for setting effective targets. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service, often abbreviated as SaaS, is a software licensing model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis. Companies pay a regular subscription fee (usually monthly or annually) to access and use the software. The subscription model has been popularized with the rise in cloud computing and storage because it allows buyers to use the software with short-term contracts if they need to, while giving sellers a predictable and recurring revenue stream.

Solopreneur

A solopreneur is a colloquial term used to describe an individual who starts and runs their business independently, without the support of co-founders or employees. Instead, solopreneurs are a jack-of-all-trades and handle most parts of their business alone, and outsource critical or repetitive tasks to freelancers.

Sprint

A sprint is a short, clearly defined period of time (usually 1 to 4 weeks) where a team works intensely to complete a set of tasks or a portion of a project. The term and method of working is most popular within software development teams and is focused on removing roadblocks and distractions from teams so they can finish complex tasks faster.

Staying in the Loop

The expression “staying in the loop” means to actively keep up with, and be aware of, important details and the state of plans in a situation. By asking a team member to “keep you in the loop”, you’re essentially asking them to help keep you up-to-date with what is happening.

Startup

In its simplest form, a startup refers to a company in the early stages of growth. A startup usually has less than 50 employees and is in the process of scaling its operations and finding product-market fit.

The term startup gets thrown around often, but a clear definition for a startup is elusive and many large companies still refer to themselves as startups.

Steve Blank of Stanford University, often referred to as the “father of innovation” in Silicon Valley, defines a startup as “a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, defines a startup as "a company designed to grow fast."

Synchronous Communication

Synchronous means existing or occurring at the same time. In the context of remote work, synchronous usually refers to synchronous communication — instant messaging or discussion that relies on immediate responses.

Synchronous communication goes hand-in-hand with instant messaging platforms, such as Slack, WhatsApp, Discord, and Microsoft Teams.


Team retreat

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Team Retreat

Team retreats (also known as staff retreats or work retreats) are team events organized by companies that are usually held over several days and treated like a holiday.

Most team retreats are used to boost morale and for team-building, but they’re also useful for employees and management to strategize, plan, and brainstorm ideas.

Quite often, work retreats are quarterly or annual events that help bring everyone together, particularly for remote-friendly companies with employees who may not have met each other face-to-face before.

Telecommute

Telecommute is a slightly archaic synonym for remote work. Telecommute is a flexible remote work arrangement where employees work outside of the traditional office work environment. Telecommute is work that can be done from anywhere and doesn’t necessarily need to be in a traditional office.

Telecommuting

Similar to telecommute, the term telecommuting refers to the process of working remotely. Workers who are telecommuting as working outside of the traditional office work environment, and completing their work from home or a co-working space.

Telework

Telework is another slightly archaic term synonymous with remote work. It is essentially the practice of working remotely, either from home or elsewhere.

Time Management Apps

Time management and maintaining productivity can be a common challenge for both remote workers and remote employers alike.

Time management apps, also known as time tracking apps, is a software service that allows remote workers to efficiently manage and track how much time they spend on certain projects and tasks.

Some notable time management apps include Toggl, Rescue Time, and Focus Keeper.

Thought Leader

A thought leader, also commonly referred to as an “influencer”, is a professional who has developed and built a positive reputation for sharing valuable knowledge in a particular industry or field.

While it might sound like a corporate buzzword, thought leaders are usually just notable experts that go out of their way to help others with guidance and insight.


Man on video call

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Video Chat

A video chat is a call or meeting hosted through some form of video software. Also known as a “virtual meeting”, video chats are popular ways for remote teams to collaborate and discuss projects that are a little more personal than instant messaging or email. Zoom and Google Meet are two examples of popular video chat collaboration software used in remote teams, but most devices offer the ability to video chat, such as Apple’s Facetime app.

Video chats are a useful face-to-face communication tool to help remote employees collaborate and alleviate isolating feelings of loneliness when working remotely — two common challenges that come with remote work.

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is an independent worker who provides admin and personal assistance services to a company or person. They’re most commonly employed to help with administrative, scheduling, or repetitive tasks and to lighten the workload of executives and teams.

Virtual assistants are usually remote freelancers or contractors and may be employed by multiple companies at once. In general, they’re cheaper than hiring a full-time or in-person personal assistant.

Virtual Machine (VM)

A virtual machine (VM) is a computing term that refers to a resource that uses software instead of a physical computer to run tasks or programs.

Virtual Meeting

A virtual meeting is a call or video chat with people around, regardless of their location. Virtual meetings are often referred to as “video calls” or “conference calls” and are an important part of collaborative work for remote teams. Zoom and Google Meet are two examples of popular collaboration software that are used to host virtual meetings.

Virtual Office

A virtual office is an arrangement and service that allows business owners to have all the perks of a physical office — a physical mailing address, telephone number, receptionist services, and even access to meeting rooms — without the need for a commercial lease. Virtual offices help small companies to scale more easily and companies can choose which services they need and don’t need to save costs.

Virtual Phone System

A virtual phone system is a cloud-based service that allows users to field calls over the internet from their laptops or mobile devices. Because virtual phone systems operate via the internet, they allow an increased level of flexibility. A virtual phone system can be a valuable tool for workers outside a traditional office work environment or even dispersed teams.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A virtual private network allows individuals to establish a private, encrypted connection over a normal or even public internet environment. VPNs can be a valuable tool for remote workers who handle sensitive data or need to access information via their organization’s private network.

Virtual Receptionist

A virtual receptionist is a remote professional who acts in the same capacity as an in-person receptionist. Virtual receptionists take calls, transfer calls, make appointments, and use their skills to manage important incoming and outgoing correspondence.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Not to be confused with augmented reality, which adds to what you’d usually see, virtual reality creates an entirely new realistic and immersive computer simulation of a three-dimensional environment. It replaces what you’d usually see.

VoIP / Virtual Phone System

VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol and is also referred to as a “virtual phone system”. A virtual phone system is a cloud-based phone technology that makes and receives calls over an Internet connection rather than a traditional phone line.


Notion wiki screenshot
Notion is an example of a popular wiki

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Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is the wireless technology used to connect computers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices to the Internet. Often thought to be short for “wireless fidelity”, Wi-Fi doesn’t actually stand for anything — the name was made up for marketing purposes as a more user-friendly name to describe technology that adhered to standards known as IEEE 802.11.

Wiki

A wiki is a website, collection, or database of information maintained collectively by a group of users, allowing any user to add and edit content. Many companies build an internal wiki to help collect and share information across the companies. This is particularly helpful for onboarding new employees remotely when you need to get them up to speed as quickly as possible.

Recently, we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of wiki software that is changing the way remote teams collaborate and communicate. Some popular wikis include Notion, Coda, and Basecamp.

Work From Home (WFH)

As the name hints, work from home refers to where an employee can do their job at home, rather than from a company office. Work from home is often abbreviated into the acronym WFH.

Synonymous with remote work, working from home is a growing trend because it provides many benefits for both the employer and the employee — notably, more flexibility and freedom. In fact, 97.6% of workers would like to work from home, at least some of the time, for the remainder of their careers.

If you're currently working from the office and want to work from home, read our guide on how to ask your boss for permission.

Work Management Software

Work management software enables people to work efficiently on their work-related tasks. Work management software generally has features that help manage individual due dates, track time, balance budgets, and work efficiently as a team.

Workation

As the name suggests, workation is a portmanteau for work and vacation. A workation is essentially a holiday that you continue to work remotely while on, allowing remote workers to take a break from their usual routine and make the most of new experiences while working. Since the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen several remote work visa announcements from countries all around the world designed to entice remote workers to live and work in exotic places for anywhere from 1 to 24 months.


Zoom interview

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Zoom interview

A Zoom interview is a video interview that is run through a popular video conferencing product called Zoom. It has various tools such as screen sharing, text chat, custom backgrounds, video recording, and a mute button.