- Over the last few years, the pandemic has upended how employers and employees alike view the workplace. Now more than ever, professionals at all levels need to stay informed for their own wellbeing and career advancements.
- The future of work will continue to be influenced by globalization, the gig economy, technology, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
- This glossary reflects some of the key terms currently associated with the Future of Work.
Powered by the continuing march of technology and automation, the future of work is constantly evolving. It is a journey rather than a destination, and working practices, along with the physical workplace, will continue to adapt and change in line with innovative new solutions that help us work more collaboratively, efficiently and productively.
Over the last few years, the pandemic has upended how employers and employees alike view the workplace. Now more than ever, professionals at all levels are ready to advocate for their own wellbeing and career advancements.
The future of work will continue to be influenced by a combination of factors such as globalization, the gig economy, technology, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
This glossary reflects some of the key terms currently associated with the future of work.
We welcome your suggestions for important terms. Contact the editors with any additional terms and definitions that you would like to see in this list.
Augmented reality (AR) adds artificial features to the reality you would ordinarily see, rather than replacing it. In most cases, people interact with AR technology through a screen, usually a smartphone or tablet, on which images, videos and sounds are overlaid.
An example in the workplace is a hologram, which allows people to appear virtually at a reception desk, or in meetings.
Bossware tools track how much employees are working, which websites they visit, where they are working, and more. With bossware, data from keystrokes, communication with colleagues, logins, and more are monitored by a software system accessible to managers.
A hybrid environment in which businesses can rent furnished office space, coworking space and meeting rooms, usually under short-term flexible agreements. Business centers are staffed and provide a range of services such as receptionist support, call answering, mail sorting and forwarding, and general day-to-day assistance.
A computing service that is delivered over the Internet is known as “cloud computing.” Examples include online storage such as Dropbox and iCloud, databases, software, and networking.
The advent of cloud computing enabled greater mobility in the workforce, allowing people and teams to telecommute from alternative locations without compromising on collaboration, and driving rapid uptake of coworking and virtual office solutions.
Shared housing, often found in city centers, where residents rent their own private rooms and share living space and kitchen facilities. Similar to coworking, coliving spaces are social and focused on community whereby residents, or members, build connections and relationships.
A workplace environment in which people, who are usually from different companies, share office space and work collaboratively. Most spaces provide open plan workspace along with private offices, meeting rooms, lounge areas, and other shared amenities such as printers, copiers and kitchen space.
DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion)
A term used to describe people who combine remote work and travel. As the name implies, digital nomads are nomadic in nature, moving around from place to place and working remotely on a freelance or contractual basis, or as an entrepreneur.
Digital Nomad Visa
Digital nomads normally require a work visa or a travel visa and are able to enjoy their work/lifestyle with the help of mobile technology, wireless Internet connectivity and cloud computing. Typical occupations include travel blogging, freelance writing, web development, design, and consulting, among others.
An individual who creates a new business, often after having identified a gap in the market and creating an innovative solution to fill it. An entrepreneur typically takes on most of the risks involved with starting a business, along with most of the rewards, and is usually seen as an innovator and a source of new ideas in their particular market.
ESG (Environmental, social and corporate governance)
Similar to DEI policies, ESG focuses on climate-related business strategies that can have a direct impact on the environment. For instance, a company’s ESG goals may involve cutting their overall carbon footprint by slashing their business travel budget.
Flex Desk Workstation
A workstation comprising a desk, chair and storage, which may be for private (sole) use or shared under a hot desk scheme.
A person who works on a self-employed basis for different companies. Freelance workers, sometimes known as “gig workers” typically charge by the hour or by the task and often work remotely, using a home office or a coworking space to carry out their work.
The rise in freelance work is largely attributed to advances in mobile technology and cloud computing, which enables freelancers to advertise their skillset and work for companies without the need to commute daily.
Generation Z, also called Gen Z, is the generational cohort following Millennials, born between the late 1990s and early 2010s. Research indicates that more than one-third of the world’s population identify as Gen Z.
“Gig workers” are usually self-employed and carry out short-term tasks, known as “gigs” for different companies. The “gig economy” is the term used to describe this labor market, which is characterized by short-term freelance jobs — which can be anything from a delivery service to data entry work.
The Great Resignation
The Great Resignation refers to the phenomenon of professionals quitting their jobs, particularly at the onset of the pandemic.
Sometimes called the Great Reshuffle, workers participating in this job exodus often cited seeking better work benefits, conditions and salary.
A hiring freeze, or hiring pause, refers to when a company hits the brakes on bringing in new workers. Although not a new concept, it has become prevalent in recent months as companies take cost-cutting measures on the eve of the incoming recession.
Combining both remote and in-office work, hybrid work gives professionals the freedom to choose where and when they work.
Rather than giving each worker their own dedicated desk, hot desking is a space-saving practice in which workers use an available desk or workstation only when they need it.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology behind smart buildings and smart homes. It is a network of physical objects — such as vehicles and appliances — which are embedded with electronics, software and sensors to enable them to connect and exchange data.
In the workplace, IoT can be used in many different ways. It can provide valuable insights on how people use and interact with their workspace; it improves security by providing smart access, and it can save resources by only heating or lighting areas that are in current use.
A job footprint represents the amount of responsibility you have as an employee. Generally, the larger the scope of an employee’s role, the larger their job footprint is.
The process of designing your optimum lifestyle and, rather than waiting for retirement to enjoy a more flexible or luxury lifestyle, to do it in the present. It became popular after Timothy Ferriss published his book “The 4-Hour Work Week” in 2007, which suggested that most people aspire to freedom and flexibility rather than wealth.
This can be attained with a more flexible approach to work, which allows people to pursue hobbies and enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle now, while they are supposedly still able and fit enough to enjoy it.
Often associated with digital nomads, people who have a location-independent lifestyle are not tied to any particular place. They may choose to stay in a certain place for a period of time, but they maintain the freedom to move around and travel to different places as often as they choose, often using a work visa or a travel visa.
Many people with an location-independent lifestyle work online, which provides the flexibility to manage their own schedule and work from virtually anywhere. Typical occupations include travel blogging, freelance writing, web development, design, and consulting, among others.
A service provided by virtual office providers, business centers, and some coworking spaces. Companies can use the business address as their own, and have incoming mail received and forwarded to an alternative destination such as their home, or another office address.
A microtrend is a tendency in the direction of a phenomenon that is fairly influential (not a full-on societal trend). Microtrends are common to business management and tend to have a duration, on average, of one to five years.
As remote work exploded during the pandemic, so did the number of employers who are worried about productivity. Productivity paranoia is when leaders fear that lost productivity is due to employees not working, even though hours worked, number of meetings, and other activity metrics have increased.
The use of technology to address the specific needs of property companies. In commercial real estate, PropTech can help companies find, buy, sell, design, fitout, and manage workspace. PropTech takes many different forms in the workplace, such as smart access systems, billing and invoicing, tracking consumption and data utilization, software for reporting repairs, and crowdfunding new workspace-related projects.
Leaders that neglect and treat employees unfairly, rather than actually letting them go, are participating in quiet firing. Instead, they stop managing them in the hope that they’ll catch on and quit.
Quiet quitting refers to workers who continue to complete their job-related responsibilities and duties, without the desire to go above and beyond what leaders want.
Remote Buddy System
The buddy system is a process in which two workers, the “buddies,” operate together as a single unit to monitor and support each other. The individuals can be remote workers or one can be office-based, whilst the other is a remote worker.
A remote worker is a person who works for a company, either on an independent contractual basis or as an employee, outside of a traditional office environment.
Remote workers typically work from home or from a “third place” location, such as a coworking space, a coffee shop or a business lounge, and collaborate with their team members through digital apps such as video conferencing and instant messaging, alongside traditional communication tools such as email and phone.
A virtual assistant provides remote business support on a flexible basis. In addition to call handling and customer service support, virtual assistants often provide secretarial tasks such as diary management, data entry and cold calling.
Virtual Business Address
A commercial address that business owners can rent on a flexible basis. They can register their company to the virtual business address, put the address on business cards and marketing materials, and have mail received, sorted and forwarded. Similar to a virtual office, they can also visit the building and use the facilities by the hour to work or hold meetings.
A virtual office provides a combination of services, a workplace, technologies, and processes for remote workers. Virtual office services include a business address, mail forwarding, monthly access to meeting rooms or desk space, live receptionist services, a business number, and a VoIP phone system. Businesses can choose which services they need, and can often add or remove services depending on their requirements.
Not to be confused with a virtual office. Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial environment created with software and presented to the user through eyewear or a headset, which enables the user to interact with their environment and feel immersed in it. VR is becoming an important element in commercial real estate and the future of work, as it can be (and is already being) used for virtual workspace tours, architectural design, hands-on training, and more.
Virtual Receptionist / Live Receptionist
A flexible remote receptionist service that provides live call answering, call forwarding, appointment scheduling, and general customer service support. Companies that outsource their call handling to a live receptionist pay on a sliding scale depending on how many live call answering minutes they require each week.
A virtual coworking space is a digital, simulated office space outfitted with collaboration features to replicate a physical office space. Virtual workspaces primarily act as the collaborative hub for remote teams and foster work management.
While remote teams can connect using any communication channel or virtual meeting platform, digital coworking space provides a structured framework for remote teams’ collaboration that wouldn’t otherwise exist.