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The WFH Buzzwords that has become the ‘New Normal’ in 2021

By John Williams, Head of Marketing at The Instant Group

The unexpected events over the past year have changed the way we work, the way we socialise, and even how we talk.

By March 2020, the word “Coronavirus” had become one of the most frequently used nouns in the English language, and with it came plenty of new jargon, buzzwords and slang.

There are several words and phrases that have entered our day-to-day vocabulary and stuck, and those which have taken on a new meaning during the year. Workspace Specialists Instant Offices have uncovered some of the biggest buzzwords that are expected to be heard regularly in the coming months, especially during your (virtual) workplace meetings.

Blursday: This oh-so-relatable word perfectly describes how easy it is to lose track of the days of the week, thanks to the disorienting effects of lockdown

Coronacation: A forced stay-at-home vacation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Covidiot: An insult used to describe someone ignoring public health advice, specifically advice about COVID-19.

Lockdown: The dreaded L-word has become commonplace, referring to government-mandated quarantine measures. Lockdown was named the Collins Dictionary “word of the year” for 2020, as it reflects such a widely shared global experience. Online searches for “lockdown” in the UK surged in March, and rose again by twice the search volume in November.

Lunch and learn: A voluntary training session or presentation that takes place during employee lunchtime. These sessions aim to bring people from across a company together in an informal collaborative learning environment, to help with their professional development.

New normal: A tactful phrase we’ve started using as a way to remind ourselves that while the world is forever changed, we are adapting and adjusting.

Quaranteam: Also known as a social bubble, a quaranteam is a group of people who interact with each other but nobody else – theoretically preventing the risk of COVID-19 transmission within the group.

Quarantini: A DIY cocktail mixed at home, when your fave local pub or wine bar is closed due to lockdown restrictions.

Remote working: Working off-site instead of in the office. The Oxford Languages report for 2020 showed a massive increase in the use of the words “remote” and “remotely”, up more than 300% compared to 2019. They are most often used in connection with meeting, working, studying and voting. Online searches followed suit, with a big increase in UK-based Google searches for “remote work” in March and again in December.

Unmute: If your colleague speaks up in a virtual meeting, but you can’t hear them, you’d typically advise them to unmute their microphone. Not a word we would have commonly used before, unmute has seen a whopping 500% rise since March.

Virtual happy hour: The perfect occasion to enjoy that quarantini. Virtual happy hour is an online gathering via a platform like Zoom or Skype, where you can socialise with your workmates or friends while safely isolating at home.

Waist-up fashion: Thanks to the increase in virtual workplace meetings, many employees have started relying on “waist-up fashion” – a well-groomed appearance from the waist up, with comfy tracksuit bottoms and slippers safely out of view of the camera.

WFH: An abbreviation of work-from-home, now commonly used and understood in office communications as more and more employees have been working remotely.

Workation: A vacation during which an employee also works. This word gained traction in 2020 and saw a year-on-year increase of 500% in usage.

Zooming: The online meeting platform Zoom gained popularity as more businesses started communicating remotely. Now it’s become common to use Zooming as a verb, or to talk about being Zoom-ready. The videoconferencing software has also become popular for social occasions, aka Zoom parties. UK searches for “Zooming” hit a peak in April and May, and again in late December.

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