11 Buzzwords to Know as the Return-to-Office Saga Continues

We’ve all learned quite a few new words over the past two years. And it seems like there’s frequently a new buzzword that becomes ‘old hat’ pretty quickly. Words like coronavirus, social distancing, and now omicron.

So, here’s a list of the buzzwords you’ll keep hearing as companies make their way back to the office.


This, of course, stands for ‘return to office’. It generally refers to the (attempted) shift back to ‘the way things were’.


This refers to the intersection of the physical and digital realms. The growth of this space in the workplace is evident with things like digital workspaces (such as Gather) and technology-integrated meeting rooms designed to remove lapses between the physical office and the virtual meeting.


This has a few different meanings. A hybrid workforce can contain a blend of remote, in-office, and hybrid employees. Employees on a hybrid schedule will come to the office a few times a week or month, and work from home the rest of the time. Each organization has a slightly different vision of what hybrid means based on their needs, resources, and teams.


Similar to a hybrid workforce, this is a company that has some remote positions or allows their employees to work from home some of the time. However, they will still have dedicated office space that generally gets used daily.


A company that uses remote work and remote positions whenever possible. Most positions are remote or hybrid, but the company may still have a headquarters or physical office.

Distributed workforce

A team (workforce) whose members are fully remote and in different regions of the world (or at least the country). Usually, these teams don’t have a dedicated office. If, for any reason, they needed to meet in person (likely once a year or less), they would likely use a coworking space.


This refers to working alongside other people from different companies. It generally occurs in a space custom-designed for many people to have temporary or occasional desks or offices. Some companies may provide employees with coworking memberships to give them an office outside the home. Others may use a coworking space as a local office or meeting place for several employees. These are also used by freelancers and small businesses that don’t have enough staff for a full-time office—or prefer the convenience of a temporary office-for-hire.

Third space (or Third place)

It’s not work, it’s not home, it’s a third space. This includes places like cafes and libraries. These spaces are often geared toward social activities. Many headquarters now include a third space for unwinding, socializing, or even getting work done, but in a more relaxed environment.


A portmanteau of residential and commercial, it refers to workplace furniture and design that have a residential aesthetic. Picture a cozier and more welcoming look and feel than the traditional workplace design. It often includes softer materials and shapes.

Asynchronous work (or Async)

Used mostly for distributed workforces, this means that rather than all being online at the same time and being expected to reply to messages instantly, employees can create unique work schedules. Everyone’s schedules may be out of sync, and they work at the times that make sense for them.

Out-of-sync schedules are considered an advantage (rather than being an inconvenience); such as members of a distributed team working on a project nearly around-the-clock because they’re all working at different times.

Biophilic design

A design concept that ‘brings the outside in’. It’s a way of connecting employees to nature even while indoors. This type of design is a distinct perk for those returning to work, and is shown to improve mental health and overall wellness.

Many of these buzzwords reflect a new open-mindedness—both from employers and employees—to find the best ways to work together despite challenges. For many, new ways of working are improving work-life balance, decreasing (or eliminating) commutes, and facilitating the needs of a diverse workforce.

We’re here to help you navigate the new world of work and create an environment that complements your RTO plan. Here’s to the future of work – wherever and however that may take place!

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