The Vocabulary of Remote Work

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Unless you work in medicine, the language used in hospital dramas can be utterly confusing. With all of that shorthand language flying back and forth across those fictional operating rooms, it’s hard to decipher what’s being said or what any of it even means. With enough repetition, though, you get familiar with the jargon and can follow the story with confidence.

Like the medical field and many other industries, working from home comes with its own set of commonly used terms, too. You’re sure there’s a difference between “screen sharing” and “screencasting”—but what is it? And are “working remotely” and “telecommuting” the same thing?

Let this be your quick reference for some of the common words and sayings you’ll encounter in WFH (that’s “work from home”) scenarios.

Agile “A project management methodology characterized by building products that customers really want, using short cycles of work that allow for rapid production and constant revision if necessary.” (Wrike)

Agile is a sprawling methodology with a language seemingly all its own, but the core concept is simple enough: individuals are important, customer collaboration is valued, and flexibility is key. Some companies pick-and-choose parts of the Agile methodology to adopt with their teams, and one of those components is the stand-up meeting, which we’ll cover later.

Asynchronous Communication that doesn’t happen in real time, either due to time zone differences among co-workers or an individual worker’s schedule.

Any time you send some type of work communication, whether it’s a Slack message or an email, without expecting an immediate response, you’re communicating asynchronously.

Fully remote and/or hybrid teams will almost always work asynchronously at some point during the work day. And depending on the size of the team and how far everyone is distributed (around the state? Country? World?), asynchronous work could be how everything gets done for your business.

Related: What to Know About Synchronous Communication and Asynchronous Communication

Coworking spaces are an effective tool for remote teams Coworking spaces are an effective tool for remote teams

Coworking “[W]hen people assemble in a neutral space to work independently on different projects, or in groups on the same projects.” (DropDesk)

We normally hear “coworking” preceding the word “space,” but with the pandemic many people have been working outside of a group setting. Still, when coworking spaces are a safe and healthy option, having a different place to work outside of the home or traditional office adds some variety (or peace and quiet) to your work day.

Digital nomad A person who is able to fulfill his or her employment responsibilities while changing locations on a regular or irregular basis.

Or, even more simply, a remote worker who travels. The ability to move around and journey to new locations is often touted as one of the benefits of remote work, and it can be an adventurous lifestyle choice for the right person. Things to consider, though: consistently finding reliable Wi-fi.

Distributed team A group of employees working at different remote locations—not at a central headquarters—for the same company.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many employees who were accustomed to working at traditional offices found themselves working as part of a newly distributed team. The sudden change has given people time to think about what the future of work looks like for their companies, and while some distributed teams will hang on, it seems likely that we’ll see more hybrid teams staying around for longer. (More on those in a minute.)

Ergonomic Items specially and specifically designed to make work more comfortable and/or efficient.

Equip your home office with ergonomic tools, from standing desks and interactive whiteboards to comfortable desk chairs and keyboards. Equip your home office with ergonomic tools, from standing desks and interactive whiteboards to comfortable desk chairs and keyboards.

Maybe this one doesn’t come up in conversation as often as the others, but if you’re going to be working from home, you’ll want to get familiar with this term quickly. Standing desks, tabletop desks, mouse pads, keyboards, foot stools, desk chairs—all of these work-from-home essentials come in a wide variety of designs to make your workspace comfortable.

Hybrid team “[A] flexible work structure where some employees work remotely and other team members work from a central location or office.” (Owl Labs)

Not every company has said goodbye to the office forever. But with so many teams working remotely and finding solutions to distanced collaboration, the option to work from home at least some of the time is more logical than ever, and more appealing, too. Digital whiteboards and software like Vibe make it easy to connect office and remote workers, wherever they may be.

Remote work Any task or job completed from a person’s chosen location and not a company headquarters.

What once seemed like a rare employment perk is now all but commonplace, and people are finding that it’s possible to be just as productive working from home (if not moreso!) as they are working from an office.

Retreat An in-person get-together among remote workers from the same company.

You can have as many video conferences as you like, but it’s still a good idea to get the band back together every once in a while (once it’s considered safe and responsible to do so). A retreat is a great opportunity for the team to hang out in person and get to know each other on a personal level that would normally be achieved from daily in-office interactions.

Screencast / screen mirror / screen share These three terms are often treated as synonyms in casual conversation; however, there are subtle yet distinct differences to help distinguish them. EdTech Magazine offers a good explanation:

Screen mirroring allows you to project your mobile device or laptop onto a TV screen, projector or other type of monitor. Exactly what is shown on the original screen will be shown on the other device.

Screencasting is similar to mirroring but is used to share online or streaming content like videos or movies.

Screen sharing usually involves providing another user with access to your screen on their screen.

Of these, screen sharing comes up most often in a remote work situation, since both screen mirroring and screencasting require users to be in the same room.

Vibe boards enable both HDMI-connected or wireless screen mirroring and screen casting. People collaborating on a project can do work together using Vibe’s whiteboarding apps, and since Vibe projects are stored securely in the cloud there’s no need to provide access to another person’s workspace via screen sharing.

Related: How do I screencast with Vibe?

Stand-up meeting A component of Agile work methodology that requires co-workers to stand while reviewing tasks for the day in a short meeting.

“I’ll have a quick progress update for you at tomorrow’s stand-up.” Sometimes shortened to simply “standup,” this technique can be done both remotely or in-person, but the gist of it is that if you’re standing, you’ll want to keep the meeting short…and that’s entirely the point.

Learn more about running a productive stand-up meeting.

Related: The Complete Guide to Conducting Remote Stand-up Meetings

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Telecommute “[T]o work from a remote location, usually a home office, by electronically linking to a company.” (The Balance Careers)

Think of telecommuting as a subset of remote work. Telecommuting is traditionally viewed as being completed off-site, though according to remote work site Virtual Vocations, the telecommuter would live closer to the company’s office than, say, a digital nomad would.

Zoom fatigue The general feeling of overwhelm that comes from being on too many Zoom calls in a short period of time.

It is totally possible to be worn out from countless video conferencing calls. So many of us are meeting online for work, to talk to family, to socialize with friends, and this is the substitute we have for in-person get togethers. Is it perfect? No. Is it acceptable to feel overwhelmed? Absolutely.

Related: Ways to Build Trusted Relationships with your Remote Team


Vibe offers a collaborative solution combining an interactive digital whiteboard and innovative smart software. Increase engagement and efficiency at your brainstorming sessions, virtual training, and classroom sessions by integrating your favorite applications with video conferencing and an infinite, mess-free writing canvas! Collaborate today with Vibe.

Looking for the latest in interactive whiteboard technology? Check out Vibe today!

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