Learn the new office lingo | The Sunday Times Style

WFH? Zoom calls? Please. Clara Strunck presents the corporate buzzwords to know for the next phase of office life

A ‘recognition sandwich’
In the middle of a pandemic, writing even the simplest email is an art form. What to do when opening with “Hope you’re having a great week!” feels tantamount to mockery? Enter the “recognition sandwich”: a missive that starts with a reference to the (now teeth-grindingly ubiquitous) “unprecedented times” and finishes with a sympathetic call to “hang in there”. Sensitive yet effective. Be warned, however, the technique operates with a sliding scale of acceptability. If you ever sign off an email with “Staying positive and testing negative!” you deserve to be blocked.

Slack parties
As the concept of heading to the pub with your colleagues falls into distant memory, companies are finding new ways to get their teams to bond online — with mixed results. The worst? Slack parties, where that 5.30pm get-together is replaced with relentless, back-and-forth messaging in an online chat room (bow out early — it’s impossible to type and hold a drink at the same time). Then there’s the walking Zoom: a favourite of touchy-feely marketing execs, this is a hideous hybrid of exercise and a video chat. Yes, Zoom calls, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams meet-ups are tiresome enough, but now enlightened bosses are encouraging employees to dial into a video call while taking a brisk walk outside. Plead bad weather and cancel immediately.

The LinkedIn flex
Sidling up to the manager’s desk, hobnobbing in the canteen and making nice with the CEO at the office Christmas party have been replaced by the LinkedIn flex. Keen employees have been found sliding into the inboxes of senior partners (“You were two screens away from me on the company-wide Zoom call, so I thought I’d connect and say hi!”), changing the job titles in their bios to “2020 Survivor” and publishing near-hourly articles on how the pandemic has really given them the opportunity to restrategise and recentre. About as excruciating as regular networking.

The seating plan
Now that social-distancing rules have called for new rota systems to be drawn up, you never know who you’ll be sitting two metres away from. So, faced with the prospect of sharing lunch with your least-favourite member of the marketing department, you’re forced to take drastic action and employ the A/B team stealth hack to get yourself swapped over. Methods include manufacturing projects with opposite team members, sighing about the cost of trains on a Friday and booking essential appointments on office-bound days (accidentally, of course).


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