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Remote Work Glossary

Use this handy glossary to learn about key remote work terms and their definitions.

February 15th 2021

by Michael Karampalas

in Teamwork

The world of remote work is changing and evolving quickly. That means that it can be hard to stay on top of the latest terminology and trends. Don’t worry - we put together this glossary of key remote work terms to help!

If you’re looking for tips on making the move to working remotely, check out article on transitioning to remote work.


1:1 - A regular, often weekly, meeting between a manager and an employee. The goal is to use the time for coaching, career discussions, giving context, or just venting. 1:1 meetings are especially important on a remote team.


Agenda - A list of items to be discussed at a meeting. Agendas are especially important in remote and asynchronous teams because they often serve as the place to record meeting notes and takeaways.

All-remote - When everyone at a company works remotely.

Asynchronous - Not existing or happening at the same time. Asynchronous companies communicate and move projects forward without the need for people to be available at the same time communications are sent.

Autonomy - Allowing people to shape their work environment so they can perform to the best of their ability. An autonomous workplace is based on trust, respect, dependability, and integrity.


Brainwriting - An alternative to brainstorming. Done asynchronously, brainwriting involves writing down ideas on your own before sharing and discussing them with a broader group. This approach not only allows for work to be done asynchronously but also prevents a few people from doing the majority of the ideation, which is common with traditional brainstorming.

Burnout - A state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. In a remote setting, it’s easy to feel pressure to be “always-on”. When coupled with physical isolation burnout can rear its head. This is particularly true for those who are not well acclimated to remote work or have just started their first remote role.


Channel - Dedicated communication areas in chat applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams organized around a specific topic.

Check-in - A check-in is a brief update from a team member that is shared with the others on the team. On a remote or asynchronous team, check-ins are critical communication tools to keep the team in sync. Status Hero automates check-ins for teams and integrates with most tools that teams use for their work.

Coffee chat - An informal chat between members of a remote team to talk about non-work-specific items that help to build relationships and foster empathy.

Co-located - Working together in a shared location.


Daily goals - People who make stuff, like programmers, writers, and designers, are limited to working on one or two intellectual tasks per day. By setting daily goals, team members can create realistic plans, and over time this will lead to more accurate estimates and timelines.

Deep work - According to Cal Newport, deep work is defined as “cognitively demanding activities that leverage our training to generate rare and valuable results, and that push our abilities to continually improve.” To get into a state of deep work, Newport suggests focusing on a single, intense task for a long period of time to reach peak productivity. The ability to get into deep work can be a major benefit of remote work, as long as teams limit meetings and embrace working asynchronously.

Distributed - Typically used to refer to a team or company with members that are working in a variety of different locations, often spanning multiple time zones. This does not necessarily mean people are remote as companies may refer to themselves as distributed but have several colocated teams strategically placed in various locales around the globe.


Focus time - A period of reserved, meeting-free time that is at least 3 hours. Focus time can be used to get into “deep work”, which is essential for creative and engineering roles.


Hybrid remote - A team or company that is both remote and co-located.


Insights - Analysis of qualitative and quantitative data that surfaces trends and information that can be used to make better decisions. Status Hero helps surface insights on individual and team performance to help teams have more effective retros and 1:1s.


Low-context communication - A method for written communication that assumes the readers have little context and strives to provide as much information and background as quickly and succinctly as possible.


Mood - Someone’s mood can be a leading indicator of a brewing or undiscussed issue. If someone is worried or annoyed, it could be a signal to you and the rest of the team that there’s a problem. If a team member is excited or celebratory, there could be some exciting news. Understanding team members’ moods is important for any team, and it can be difficult in a remote environment where it’s harder to pick up on subtle cues. Status Hero automates collecting and sharing team members’ moods.


Non-linear workday - A way of working that allows people to structure their day and when they work to best suit them.


One-on-one - A regular, often weekly, meeting between a manager and an employee. The goal is to use the time for coaching, career discussions, giving context, or just venting. 1:1 meetings are especially important on a remote team.


Psycological safety - Shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. It entails a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up. On high-performing teams, members feel they can take risks without fear of being punished.


Remote-first - An organizational strategy that makes working remotely the primary option for most or all employees. Few, if any, people are regularly required to perform their jobs from a centralized office.

Remote-only - An organizational strategy where employees are only remote and there is no company-owned office. Most organizations opt to use the term “all-remote” instead because it does not imply that team members cannot ever be in the same physical space.

Retrospective - Regular team discussions focused on what’s recently gone well, what hasn’t, and what can be improved. The main purpose of a retrospective is to refine processes on a team and drive continuous improvement, making it more enjoyable to be a part of. But it’s not all focused on what to improve. Retros are a great opportunity to celebrate success and recognize team members for their hard work. Retrospectives can be challenging for remote teams so we’ve put together a guide to help remote teams run effective retrospectives.


Standup - A daily meeting consisting of team members answering a standard set of questions: What did I do yesterday? What are my goals for today? Is there anything blocking me? Traditionally standup meetings were done in co-located settings but now that more people are working remotely, teams are finding ways to hold effective standup meetings with remote teams.

Synchronous - The opposite of asynchronous. Synchronous communication requires all participants to be available simultaneously.

This article’s image features Judy Sullivan, a math and science teacher who joined NASA in 1966 as the first woman engineer in Spacecraft Operations. Learn more

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