New post-COVID office terminology:  are you up to speed?

| July 18, 2022

Creativity is one of the hallmarks of humanity. When the whole world was plunged into lockdown, it was only a matter of time before we humans started up with some new lingo to express new situations that we were dealing with.

According to Jenny Folley, before the pandemic, nobody would have known what ‘coronavirus’, ‘social distancing’, or ‘contact tracing’ would come to mean. In our minds, lockdowns were for prisoners perishing away in a prison cell in some distant place, home-school was something the Amish people did, and a RAT test would have been a test for rodents.

“Haven’t things changed.  Now we have a new set of terms to deal with and it is important that everyone knows the new buzz words and uses them whereever possible.  After all, isn’t that what offices are for?  To give birth to new words that keep us all entertained in some way or another,” Folley said.

Jenny Folley is the CEO of @Workspaces, an Australian chain of five-star office spaces and facilities located in prime locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Folley has provided an overview of some of the new terms being kicked around offices across the country.

Anti-social distancing: a person who uses social distancing as an excuse to avoid going near anyone at work who is not liked.

Blue Skype thinking: a pun on the phrase ‘blue sky thinking’, which is a form of creative brainstorming. By contrast, ‘blue Skype thinking’ is a brainstorming session which takes place over a videoconferencing.

Coronamalaise: the loosening of behaviour, productivity, and any interest in returning to work or getting anything done on time, or at all – laziness at work.

Coronials: a word that has made it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s ‘Words we are watching’ list, coronials are the babies conceived and born during the pandemic.

Coughin’ dodger: someone who pretends to cough so they can go home. By contrast, a ‘coffin dodger’ is an older person who seems to be good at avoiding death.

Covidiot: a disparaging term used to describe someone in the office who continues to ignore the warnings regarding general health and safety and who fails to practise social distancing, constantly touches other people’s things, etc.

Covidophile: a term used to refer to someone who is obsessed with coronaviruses and coronavirus diseases. A covidophile talks about covid constantly instead of doing work and often jijacks meetings talking about the pandemic rather than work stuff.

The elephant in the Zoom: Another great pun on the phrase ‘elephant in the room’, in this case, it refers to a glaring issue during a videoconferencing call that nobody feels able to mention. Examples include: a bad DIY haircut, bombsite house in the background, questionable facial hair or just doing the meeting in a towel as nothing fits anymore.

Virodamus/ Corostradamus: a person who predicted the pandemic and continues to predict what is going to happen.

Vis/ Let’s do a vis: short for visual, this is a visual meeting through zoom or another online platform.

“COVID changed the landscape of our lives so profoundly that the editors of the Oxford English Language Dictionary had to release special updates to reflect on the rapidity of the impact of pandemic on the English language,” Folley said.

“During a time of unprecedented change, many scientific and medical terms were suddenly brought into the average person’s everyday vocabulary. Languages evolve when people have no available way of expressing what they want to say conventionally, so they find other ways to get their message across. As so much of our lives is spent working, new words relating specifically to the COVID-impacted workspace also arose.

“The workplace is definitely a new and different environment for many and now it seems we have a new set of terms to deal with as well.”