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two businesspeople in office talking SFnbozapHj SBI 301023056

The new language of the office

By: Dan Bladen, Co-Founder and CEO at Chargifi

We’ve all had to learn new words and phrases to navigate our personal lives throughout the pandemic. Social distancing, household bubbles and shutdown orders have become part of everyday language we wouldn’t think of using before 2020. As businesses transition back into the office, the way we speak about the workplace is changing too.

You’re going to need to know more than just ‘work from home (WFH)’ to navigate the new working world. We’ve put together a complete guide to office lingo post-2020 so you’re not caught off guard the next time a colleague invites you to their ‘office neighborhood’.

Remote working

Remote working simply means working outside of your organisation’s usual workplace. For many people, this will be the new normal. Thanks to cloud-based software, always-on Wi Fi and video conferencing, work can be done at home, in a cafe, or even outdoors!

Hybrid working

The amount of people in the UK working from home has more than doubled since 2020, demonstrating the benefits and potential of remote working. For those looking for a balance between working from home and time at the office, a new model is emerging.

‘Hybrid working’ describes employees dividing their work time between the office and remote spaces, like a cafe or at home. This flexible work model lets people take advantage  of environments where they feel the most creative, productive and social: it’s the best of both worlds.

Office neighbourhoods 

Hybrid working models make it even more important for offices to be organised so that employees with similar needs or job functions can work closely together. As the need for personal deskspace fades away, office managers and space planners need to create an environment which suits the needs of their people.

Office neighbourhoods are areas where people who require similar amenities or who  are working together on the same project can meet. These could be quiet spaces or high-functioning collaborative spaces where teams can collaborate and share ideas.

Desk hoteling

Desk hoteling is simply hot desking, but with the option to reserve your desk!

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The new system overcomes many of the objections people had to hot desking – space are cleaned thoroughly between use, so no desks littered with the previous occupant’s mess, and you get to select your space, and can even reserve it on a regular basis, rather than being lumbered with whatever’s available when you walk through the door…

Desk hoteling also offers organisations an insight into the way spaces are used and how to arrange them, based on metrics from actual and forecast usage. Booking data lets you plan your workspace, creating the right balance of quiet and collaborative space that suits your employees and community.

Asynchronous communication

The pandemic has shown us that white-collar workers don’t need to be in the same place at the same time to maintain productive communication between teams and people.

As remote working becomes increasingly common, online tools such as Slack, MS Teams and Google Docs let people share ideas and build on feedback whilst starting work early  or  popping out for the mid-afternoon school run.

This can be described as asynchronous communication, where it’s not necessary for both people in a conversation to be “present” at the same time. Messages can be sent across the globe in an instant, but they may not be read or replied to until later, and that’s ok.

Hybrid meetings

Meetings are an essential part of any high-functioning organisation, helping teams to generate ideas and make decisions. As workforces continue to embrace hybrid work models, hybrid meetings ensure collaboration is possible between remote and in-person attendees, so that businesses can still operate productively and efficiently.

Water cooler chat

One of the casualties of the pandemic has been those spontaneous encounters and conversations you’d enjoy with colleagues throughout your day.

For many workers, these chance encounters are the reason they favour a mix of remote and office working. In a recent study of 1500 business professionals, 55% described ‘water cooler chat’ as one of the best things about office work.

Our view of the office is being turned on its head; the future revolves around a hybrid model which incorporates the productive benefits of remote working with the wellbeing benefits of social connection. Get comfortable with the vocabulary that describes this new culture so you can get the most out of your business and workplace.


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