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London Works Glossary of Workplace Jargon

Image for London Works Glossary of Workplace Jargon

Have you ever been in a “catch-22” situation where you’ve been “struggling to see the wood from the trees”?

The frequent use of workplace clichés, metaphors and jargon can sometimes make the transition from education to office-based employment pretty daunting. However silly, strange or nonsensical, these phrases are heard all the time in offices across different businesses, sectors and locations in the UK.

Of course, you should always feel confident to ask your new colleagues what they mean when faced with an unfamiliar phrase, but there may be a time where you have no one to ask.

For those pesky occasions, the London Works and ELBA team have compiled a glossary of common phrases that will help you “hit the ground running”.

Action – as a verb, to mean “do”. “Can you action that?”

Bandwith – e.g. “I don’t have the bandwith for that” – capacity

Best practice – most effective way

Bring to the table – this means to offer skills, services, ideas etc. “What are you bringing to the table?” = what are you bringing to the team in terms of skills, knowledge etc.

Buy-in – commitment or interest

Catch 22 – a dilemma you can’t escape from because of mutually conflicting conditions

C-Suite – term used to describe corporate officers and directors. The highest-level executives usually have titles beginning with “chief” so are part of the “C-suite”

Close of Play/ Close of Business – by the end of the day

Deep dive – a technique to rapidly immerse a team into a situation for problem solving or idea creation – part of brainstorming

A Deliverable – (a thing that has to be provided) – “the company’s primary method of measuring customer feedback on deliverables”

Don’t let the grass grow too long on this one – work quickly

Drill down – go into details, investigate the details

Drop the ball – rugby based expression, meaning fail or make a mistake

Due diligence – reasonable steps taken by a person to avoid committing an offence

Elevator pitch – brief presentation, the broad idea distilled into a 30 second pitch, as if you were pitching it in the time it took your lift to ascend/ descend.

Get all your ducks in a row – be organised and in line with everyone else. You may think I’m disorganised, but there’s no need to talk to me like a five-year-old

Going forward / Moving forward – in the future

Hard copy – a printed copy of information from a computer

Hotdesking – sharing several desks with colleagues

Hump day – Wednesday (it’s the “hump” of the week)

Let’s put a pin in that – let’s come back to that later

Low hanging fruit – easy win business – same as ‘quick wins’

Organic growth – naturally occurring development

Paradigm shift – a big change in the way we do things]

Ping – get back to, send, as in email

POETS day – Friday, “Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday”

Push the envelope – make things better, challenge current standards, go further

Reach out – as in “I’ll reach out to sales to get the latest figures”

Restructuring – usually this means firing people or making redundancies, or at least changing the structure of the company and moving people

Return on Investment – how much profit or cost saving is realised as a result of investment

Soft copy – an unprinted digital document file

SME – Small-Medium Enterprises, or can also mean Subject Matter Expert

Squeaky Bum Time – the tense final moments of a competition or deal

Stakeholder – a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business

Synergy – cooperation of different parts of a business. Different departments working together well

Touch base – to talk to someone.

Touch base offline – meaning let’s meet and talk, in a more informal setting.

Unpack – (as in “Let me unpack that statement.”) – explain and go into details