A Field Guide to Workplace Terminology

As the ecosystem around the workplace industry grows ever more complex, so too does the language we use to describe it. In an attempt to bring order to chaos, guest writer Simon Heath presents here a glossary of terms, acronyms and abbreviations to help you navigate these linguistic waters. (For example Business Intelligence – A commonly used oxymoron.) For more of Simon’s worldly, wise and witty writing on all things work and workplace related, visit his blog at https://workmusing.wordpress.com.

80/20 Rule – What you invoke to excuse yourself from reading the whole report.

Actual Space Utilization – Metric used when figuring out how Bob from Accounts takes 3 hours in the loo on a Thursday afternoon with a copy of The Racing Post.

Alternative Workplace – Wherever you end up working when you’re being flexible (bus stop, cupboard under stairs, coffee shop, loo, supermarket, crowded cinema, mother’s funeral, child’s school play etc.)

Alternative Workplace Strategy – Plan by the business to have you do as much of your work at the bus stop (see above) as possible so as to reduce the amount of desks or workspace they have to pay for.

Benchmarking – Desperately looking for something to support a business case.

Best Practice – What you cite to a client, seeking to excuse yourself from any real innovation.

Building Management System – Dave from FM with his bag of spanners.

Business Intelligence – A commonly used oxymoron.

CAD – Complicated And Distracting.

CAFM – Costly And Frequently Mis-used.

Carbon Footprint – The mess in the print room after Dave from FM tried to change the toner with his bag of spanners.

Circulation -That which is affected by trying to meet client demands at the last minute.

Cloud Based Computing – The inevitable consequence of years of rising hot air about the future of workplace technology.

Coaching – What your boss thinks he’s doing when he spends the first half hour of your appraisal telling you how he got where he is.

Competencies – The list of skills your boss wishes his team had.

Corporate Culture – What happens when the management aren’t looking too closely.

De-skilling – What an organisation undertakes before deciding it needs to bring in outside expertise.

Digital Signage – That team from Marketing are holding a cake sale again.

Discretionary Bonus – The one that got away.

Efficient Space Utilisation – What Bob from Accounts (see above) will claim he’s practising if ever challenged.

eLearning – What you have to do when there aren’t enough meeting rooms available.

Employee Champion – Finding someone else people can whinge to.

Employee Engagement – Exactly the same as when your partner emits a heavy sigh and you ask what’s wrong and they answer “Nothing, I’m fine.” and you go back to watching Homeland.

Energy Management System – Taking the lift instead of the stairs.

Functional Zoning – Ensuring the guy who smells a bit funny sits next to the one window that can be opened.

Gain-sharing – What you propose to a client when you want to have a really good disagreement.

Hot Desking – A practice whereby once a week you get to spend time with the IT helpdesk getting your wireless reconfigured and have a seat with a team from internal audit with a chinese wall so strict in place it makes Omerta look like your fabulously indiscreet Aunty Betty.

Hotelling – Like hot desking but reminds you of that really cute guy on the concierge desk you flirted with at last year’s WorkTech in Singapore.

IWMS – It Was My Suggestion, or what the Head of Real Estate says when the CEO makes complimentary comments on the new water feature/slide/ping pong table/palm court/Gaggia.

Knowledge Worker – A Googler.

Mentoring – Giving the office bore an opportunity to patronize the junior staff .

Mission Statement – A list of vague terms that are deliberately left open to interpretation.

Mobile Interface – Pretending to be on your Blackberry when you see an unpopular member of staff approaching you at a social event.

Non-financial Benefit – Being allowed to keep your job.

Offshoring – A form of outsourcing where you ensure that mistakes are made at arms length.

On Demand – The kind of service you are lead to expect once you’ve had your wirelesss reconfigured by IT, found a spare desk, connected to the network, found a printer and logged your roaming profile into the desk phone.

Peer Review – Collective procrastination.

Planned Space Utilisation – That chat HR need to have with Bob from Accounts.

Presence Detection – Keeping an eye out for the boss so you can carry on goofing around on the internet.

Real Estate Management – Trying to convince senior executives that you’re a strategic partner to the business.

Real Time Occupancy Data – What you see is what you get.

Resource Management – Make do and mend.

SaaS – Shortcomings and additional Slip-ups.

Scientific Management – What your COO is thinking about when he gets that faraway look during strategy meetings.

Shared Workspace – A practice that ensures all employees get a tour of the office every day whilst trying to find a place to work.

Space Requirements – The implacable in pursuit of the impossible.

Staff on Strength – Those employees not claiming to be off with norovirus.

Stakeholders – What you tell yourself you have to differentiate yourself from someone working in Tesco.

Swing Space – Well Google have a slide, don’t they?

Telecommuter – How you describe yourself in the hope that nobody will notice you spent the first hour of the day trying to return that dress you bought for one wear at the office party.

Test Fit – A wonderful daydream space planners have on a quiet Friday afternoon.

Visitor Management – Ensuring people visiting your offices have to spend enough time providing a long list of personal information to cover for the fact that you’re running late from your previous appointment.

Web Based – Where the IT department put all the tools you need to use while they take the wireless network offline for maintenance.

Work/Life Balance – Used to describe something perpetually skewed in someone else’s favour.