Career | Work

The Remote Work Technology Glossary: 89 Software and Tech Terms All Remote Workers Should Know

Knowledge of a variety of software applications and computing devices is a must for remote workers. But along with these technologies come a host of related terms and jargon that it also pays to be familiar with.

Both the technology and the jargon are changing at a rapid rate, and it can be difficult for remote professionals to keep up. To help below is a comprehensive list of 89 current technology terms.

In addition to the basics, this list includes some newer terms that reflect current trends associated with remote business models and remote teams, especially regarding advances in technology and computer security.

Knowing these terms will give you a leg-up both as a jobseeker seeking remote work and as a professional working from home:

1. Application Software (App)

A computer program or set of programs that together allow end-users to perform a function. Examples of applications include word processors, email clients, music players, and spreadsheets.

2. Application Programming Interface (API)

An API is what allows a website to access and display data coming from other websites. For example, if you go to Google and search for today’s weather, you will see a weather summary at the top of the results page that has been requested and displayed from Weather.com.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Also called “machine intelligence,” it refers to computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. Examples include identifying visual objects, recognizing speech, making decisions, and translating languages.

4. Asynchronous Communication

Refers to the exchange of data between two or more parties without the requirement for all the recipients to respond immediately; for example, an email exchange.

5. Attachment

A digital file, such as a document or image, that is sent along with an email message for the recipient to download.

6. Augmented Reality (AR)

AR allows developers to add interesting or informational features to the reality you would ordinarily see. An AR app may, for example, allow the user to view animated images or labels laid overtop the live view through their smartphone’s camera.

7. Back-End

This refers to the aspects of a software program that the user can’t see. These include servers, databases, and the code that makes the program work.

8. Big Data

The gathering and analysis of extremely large data sets requiring the power of complex new software programs that are frequently used for predictive or behavioral analytics.

9. Blogger

An individual who writes content for an informational or journal-style website with entries most frequently displayed in reverse chronological order. This term may also refer to the owner or creator of the blog.

10. Business Intelligence (BI)

The process of collecting, integrating, analyzing, and presenting business information using a variety of processes and technologies designed to improve decision-making.

11. Business Apps

Software specifically designed to solve business problems, including accounting, point-of-sale, and marketing applications.

12. Cable

The delivery of television and high-speed internet via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables or light pulses through fiber-optic cables.

13. Cache

A temporary storage area in the memory of your computer that contains data and instructions frequently accessed by programs and that is used to speed up the user experience.

14. Chat (Online)

Real-time communication of text messages between the sender and receiver over the internet. Analogous to a virtual conversation.

15. Cloud Computing

The availability of software applications, data storage, and other computer system resources over the internet without storing or managing the resources directly.

16. Collaboration Tools

A tool that can be used by two or more people to achieve common goals. While the tool can be non-technical, like a whiteboard, the term as used today most commonly refers to software applications such as G Suite, Office 365, Trello, and Dropbox.

17. Conference Call

A telephone call involving several parties, wherein one person can talk to several other people at the same time.

18. Connectivity

Describes how well software and hardware devices can connect to each other and transfer data⁠—ideally, without requiring many changes to the applications or systems.

19. Content Curation

Discovering and presenting digital content related to a specific subject with the intention of adding value through collecting, maintaining, and exhibiting the information. Content curation is sometimes part of an online marketing strategy.

20. Content Management System (CMS)

A user-friendly software platform that allows for the collaborative creation, editing, archiving, reporting, publishing, and distribution of website or enterprise content.

21. Coworking Space

Communal, membership-based office space for use by remote workers and entrepreneurs. These are sometimes used for access to specialized technology such as 3D printers or lightning-fast internet.

22. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System

A process for managing a company’s relationships with its current and potential customers and clients. The term is frequently used today to refer to a software platform that stores, manages, and analyzes data regarding all aspects of your customer relationships and interactions.

23. Cyber Security

Using hardware and software to protect data sent to and from your computer and other devices to the internet.

24. Dashboard

A graphical user interface (GUI) that displays key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to a particular objective or business process in an intuitive or user-friendly manner.

25. Data Analytics

Refers to the process of data analysis, transformation, and modeling to aid decision-making, customize solutions, and assist with predictive forecasting. Software systems are used to automate and process the raw data for display to humans.

26. Data Mining

The process of discovering patterns, anomalies, and correlations by analyzing large data sets using a variety of techniques to predict outcomes.

27. Digital Nomad

A specific type of remote worker who uses telecommunications technologies to earn a living while also traveling and living a nomadic lifestyle.

28. Digital Workplace

A reimagining of the workplace that enables employees to access the systems and tools they need from any location and using any device, including smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

29. Direct Message (DM)

Refers to messages exchanged in a personal chat as opposed to a message viewed publicly by all the members of the channel, board, or group.

30. Distributed Computing

A system with components, processing, and data spread out over multiple computers, usually over a network.

31. Distributed Team

A group of workers who are geographically dispersed across different cities or countries. Employees may work in a corporate office or telecommute.

32. Distributed Work

Refers to companies with a blended work model that incorporates employees working in different physical locations. May include on-site workers at one or more office locations, as well as remote employees.

33. Download

To receive data from a remote system such as a web server, an FTP server, an email server, or a similar system.

34. Downtime

When a computer system or software platform is unavailable or failing to perform its primary function due to an outage or scheduled maintenance.

35. DSL

Abbreviation of Digital Subscriber Line, it is used to provide high-speed bandwidth connection from a phone jack on an existing telephone network. DSL uses frequencies not used by the telephone so you can access the internet while making phone calls.

36. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

The integrated management of a company’s main business functions using a suite of business applications that manage different operational processes, such as finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing, service, and the supply chain.

37. Email

Short for electronic mail, email is a method of exchanging messages between people using electronic devices. The term may also refer to a single message sent via email.

38. Email Encryption

Using public-key cryptography to scramble messages and protect the content of an email from being read by entities other than the intended recipients.

39. Emojis

Small pictures, smileys, or icons used to convey concise messages (e.g. thumbs up) or emotions in text messages, emails, or social media posts.

40. Firewall

A security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent unauthorized access to private networks connected to the internet, especially intranets.

41. Front-End

The presentation aspect of a software program consisting of the UI (user interface), or how the software looks and interacts with the user.

42. F2F

A text abbreviation for “face to face” sometimes used in an email or chat program to describe a situation where you meet and talk to someone, rather than communicating electronically.

43. GIF

Abbreviation for Graphics Interchange Format. This term usually refers to a short, animated picture without sound.

44. Gig Economy

This refers to the proliferation of flexible, temporary, and freelance jobs that usually involve connecting with clients or customers through an online platform.

45. Hacker

Individuals who exploit weaknesses in computer systems to gain unauthorized access to data. There are different types of hackers identified by colored “hats;” for example, white hat hackers, grey hat hackers, red and black hat hackers. Each type hacks for different reasons, including to improve security, to break the law, or for a cause.

46. Hybrid Teams

A partially distributed team whose members have the option to work from an office, remotely, or both.

47. Influencer

A person or organization that claims to have an expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field, often measured by the number of followers on social media platforms.

48. Information Security

The practice of protecting print and electronic information or data from unauthorized access or use by mitigating information risks.

49. Instant Messaging (IM)

Sending messages in real-time between computers, smartphones, or other compatible devices while both the sender and recipient are using the same application. WhatsApp and Google Hangouts are examples of instant messaging platforms.

50. Internet of Things (IoT)

A system of computing devices embedded in a variety of everyday objects that are interconnected via the internet to send and receive data; for example, the ability to lock your house with an application on your smartphone.

51. Internet Service Provider (ISP)

A commercial, community-owned, or non-profit organization that provides access to the internet, usually using a computer.

52. Intranet

A local or restricted computer network used for sharing information, collaboration tools, operational systems, and other business and computing services within an organization.

53. IRL

Similar to F2F, this carries over abbreviation from social texting means “in real life” and is used to let people know they are talking about something in the real world and not in the internet world.

54. Keywords

Words that best capture the ideas and topics presented in your content. These are used in search engine optimization (SEO) to represent the words or phrases that would be used in a search engine to find your content.

55. Malware

Short for malicious software, this term refers to all kinds of malicious software, including viruses, ransomware, and spyware. Malware is designed to cause damage or get unauthorized access to a network.

56. Mobile App

A computer program that is built for a specific smartphone platform, such as iOS or Android, that is either preloaded to your phone or downloaded via an app store. Instagram and Google Maps are examples of popular mobile apps.

57. Network Monitoring

Using a system to monitor a computer network and identify slow or failing components in order to notify the network administrator in case of outages or other trouble.

58. Organic Search Results

Also called “natural” results, the search engine results that most closely match the search query. These results are based on relevance, as opposed to appearing because the website has paid to sponsor the listing.

59. Password Hygiene

The practice of making your passwords difficult to guess and changing them frequently to help keep your online accounts safe from hackers.

60. PDF

A file format developed by Adobe that allows the user to view documents, including formatting and images, without requiring the same software application, hardware, or operating system that created it.

61. Phishing

A criminal posing as a legitimate person or institution and contacting individuals by email, telephone, or text message to request sensitive data such as passwords and credit card details.

62. Project Management Tools

Aid in helping an individual or team to organize work and manage complex projects and tasks. Nowadays, the term usually refers to software used by distributed teams. Some popular current programs include Basecamp, Monday, Asana, and Trello.

63. Public Wi-Fi & Computers

This term refers to internet and computer access conveniently provided in a public environment, either for free and paid use. These may be available at sites like airports and internet cafes, though they are usually not very secure against hackers and should be used with caution.

64. Real-Time Communication (RTC) Apps

Software applications that allow the near-simultaneous exchange of information. Today, this term is used to describe business applications that offer distributed employees the ability to chat collaboratively in real-time, such as Slack, Ryver, Glip, Twist, Fleep, and Flock.

65. Remote Work

Currently the default, umbrella term for work performed outside of fixed office space. Remote workers are individuals who usually or always work outside of fixed office space. The term is inclusive of employees, freelancers, and independent contractors.

66. Remote Desktop

A software program that allows you to connect to a computer in another location to see and interact with that computer’s desktop. For example, you may connect to and use programs on your office desktop when working from home on your laptop.

67. Router

The device that makes it possible to access the internet from home, a router is a networking device that sends and receives packets of data and directs traffic on the internet.

68. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of increasing the visibility of a website in organic search results. This can include the use of relevant keywords in website content as well as in webpage elements such as titles and meta descriptions.

69. Server

A computer program or device that responds to requests and provides functionality for other programs or devices (called “clients”) on the network. This is referred to as the client-server model.

70. Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software that is delivered online via subscription as opposed to purchased and installed on an individual computer for lifetime use. Popular business examples include Google Apps, Salesforce, Dropbox, and MailChimp.

71. Spoofing

The act of disguising a communication to make it look like it is being sent from a known and trusted source. Spoofing can apply to communications sent to you such as emails, phone calls, and websites, or communication sent to your computers, such as another computer spoofing an IP address or domain name.

72. Synchronous Communication

Two or more people exchanging information in real-time. This can occur during face-to-face meetings and conversations, but also includes real-time communication apps such as chat programs. This type of communication requires an immediate response.

73. Telecommute

A work arrangement that utilizes a variety of telecommunication technologies, including computers, telephones, and video cameras, in place of commuting to work in a fixed office space. The term most often refers to full-time employees who work remotely.

74. Telepresence

Technologies that facilitate the feeling of actually being present or giving the appearance of being present during meetings. These technologies include telerobotics, sophisticated video capture, and even holograms. Groundbreaking applications include Double Robotics telepresence robot and Owl Labs’ 360-degree Meeting Owl.

75. Telework

An outdated term meaning the same as telecommute. It is still used by many traditional institutions, including the federal government and many state governments.

76. Text Messaging

Composing and sending short electronic messages between cell phones. These messages don’t depend on specialized applications and can be sent regardless of the carrier company.

77. Time Management Apps

A set of applications designed to be used by both individuals and companies to track and monitor the time spent on work activities. These can be used to calculate billable hours and payroll. Some popular examples include Timely, Toggl, and Everhour.

78. Traffic

For remote workers, traffic no longer refers to vehicles moving on a road or highway. Now, traffic means messages or signals transmitted through a communications system.

79. Upload

The opposite of download, upload means sending data to a remote server or computer so that the remote system can store a copy.

80. Uptime

The opposite of downtime, uptime is a measure of system reliability, expressed as the percentage of time a network has been working without problems.

81. Unified Communications

A term that refers to the integration of a company’s communication services, including the phone system, video conferencing, instant messaging, email, SMS, fax, and so on.

82. Video Call/Chat/Conferencing

Real-time, face-to-face interaction using a video conferencing application and computer or mobile device. There are slight variations in meaning between these terms, however. A video call is between two people; a chat is an informal video meeting, while a conference is usually a more formal meeting.

Most video conferencing software can be used for all of these uses, with popular examples including Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, and Join.me.

83. Virtual Machine (VM)

A computer file, or image, that acts like another computer; essentially, a computer within a computer. This allows you to run more than one operating system on the same computer.

84. Virtual Office

It provides businesses with common office services, such as telephone reception, a mailing address, meeting rooms, and video conferencing, without the expenses of owning or leasing a traditional office.

85. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

It allows you to extend your private network across a public network to send and receive data across public networks more securely. VPNs also help you stay anonymous while accessing the internet.

86. Virtual Reality

An immersive artificial environment created with software and presented to the user through eyewear or a headset.

87. Web App

A web application or web app is a computer program that runs in a web browser but can adapt for viewing on a smartphone or other device. Common web applications include online retail and banking sites.

88. Website Analytics

The collection, analysis, and reporting of data regarding website usage in order to understand your visitor’s behavior and identify opportunities to optimize the website’s performance.

89. Wi-Fi

Wireless networking technology that allows devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones to communicate and interact with the internet without direct cable connections.

With these terms in mind, you’ll be ready to take the leap into telecommuting.

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