Assuming you work at what would historically be an office job, but there is no office, which way of describing this lifestyle resonates the most with you?
Terms for the ‘no office’ trend have mushroomed in recent years, along with the number of people saying NO to the office.
Take this striking example: The company behind WordPress is closing its gorgeous San Francisco office because its employees never show up.
At EPW Small Business Law, we are big fans of the mindshift and physical shift to a no office lifestyle that enhances quality of life via less time spent commuting and other benefits. We have no office and that’s the way we like it! It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are working from some exotic location–though we might be! It DOES mean that we value flexibility and individuality.
In describing EPW’s services Elizabeth makes it clear that she is NOT the lawyer for you if “you want a lawyer who wears a suit, works in a prestigious high rise office building, and goes to all the fancy lawyer parties.” She is the lawyer for you if her expertise is a good fit for your needs, if her energy resonates with you (get to know Elizabeth better: Everything or Nothing: An Ode to the INFJ), and if you like the idea of working with an attorney primarily via email!
There are multiple sides to lifestyle trends, including the flexible, “no office” one. As you will see in links below, many writers are starting to address the downsides of this lifestyle, dismantling the myths, and getting real.
Here are thoughts about different descriptions of this dynamic landscape, along with a range of curated articles for you to browse.
Relatively New Terms That Convey “No Office”
1. Working Remotely / Remote Working
This may be the most common, long-standing term. But, is it the most enticing one? The word remote has become sexy because it’s now associated with a lifestyle, but it also means ‘unlikely to occur’ and if you are word-focused like I am as an INTP personality type, the secondary meanings of words color the primary ones.
The word remote itself doesn’t necessarily evoke exciting lifestyle perks, but it is a solid reference point that many people understand. One of our favorite podcast hosts, Julie Anne Eason of Anywhere, Anywhen, The Art of Remote Working, believes that “…work should support your lifestyle. Not the other way around.” We couldn’t agree more! Working Anywhere, Anywhen? Yes! And valuing remote working as an Art? Yes, please!
2. Digital Nomad / Working Nomad
Ooh, yeah, now these are fun! Digital Nomad in particular. This concept is fantastically enticing and also, like similar terms when used in combination with images, can be over-romanticized. Think of all the shots of people working on the beach. Have you ever tried using your laptop on the beach? The glare, the sand, the watering down of the experience of being on the beach because you are staring at a screen instead of enjoying the beach!
Historically, being a nomad was, and still is, a hard life for those who herd livestock in search of fresh pastures. With vast inequality in the world, there is a privileged aspect to the word being co-opted to mean a desirable lifestyle for educated, computer-savvy people. But so goes our rapidly changing world. A bit of cynicism aside, there is no denying the romance of the word nomad. Wanderlust is a beautiful thing.
And the increase in people working around the world means more insightful world citizens who aren’t limited by nationalistic beliefs. The planet needs caring global citizens now more than ever!
Quick reads: A Brief History of Digital Nomading, Christine Gilbert Inside Nomadtopia: Not Every Place Is for Everyone, Amy Scott What’s it REALLY Like to be a Digital Nomad, Julie Ewald
3. Location independent / Location Independent Entrepreneur
According to her website, Lea Woodward, a British home-schooling mom, coined this term in 2007. Here is her fascinating and pioneering story. Location Independent is a compelling and descriptive term, but a bit of a mouthful! But maybe there is really no short way to express this phenomenon. Lea first used LIP as an acronym for Location Independent Professionals… but LIP? Nope! Sometimes longer names are better, and Location Independent has become many people’s preferred term.
Quick reads: 3 Ways to Become Location Independent, Corbett Barr Creating a Location Independent Business, Chris Guillebeau The Realities of a Location Independent Life, Jennifer Miller Jobs That Travel: How I Live a Location Independent Life, Luke Spartacus
Oldies But Goodies That Still Convey “No Office”
Surely the oldest of them all, in the early 1800s “Free Lances” were medieval mercenaries with no allegiance to fight for anyone, except the highest bidder. Freelancers have been on the job or jobs since that time, and have grown exponentially around the world thanks to the internet. Having a freelance or independent contractor status brings up important legal considerations. More on that from Elizabeth, below. Quick reads: Is Your Virtual Assistant an Independent Contractor, or an Employee? Status: It’s Complicated, Elizabeth Potts Weinstein 82 rules for all freelancers to live by, Part 1, Josh Hoffman for the Freelancers Union 82 rules for all freelancers to live by, Part 2, Josh Hoffman for the Freelancers Union
This one is awesome in its old-school-ness (a NASA engineer coined the term in 1973). A friend of mine used it recently and I had completely forgotten about it, or then again, I never really used it. I skipped that era. Back when people were talking about telecommuting in the 1990s and early 2000s, I was still working office jobs and, like most people, hadn’t discovered flexible work yet. At EPW, we minimize telephone calls, for efficiency and sanity, so this one doesn’t resonate, but it’s funny! It has the word commuting in it! Quick read: The Invention of Telecommuting, Vicky Gan
Lesser Known Terms That Signify “No Office”
6. Distance working
Not widely used… there may be something a little cold and um, distant about it. Perhaps it evokes the dreaded “long-distance relationship”! Yet, the term is decently descriptive and we are big fans of distant lands!
Quick reads: 17 Resources for Making Distance Working Work for You and Your Team, Katie Browning 4 Tips for Running a Business from 3 Continents, Erika Yost Kumar
7. Free Range
Author of Be a Free Range Human, Marianne Cantwell has created a digital, nomadic lifestyle for herself and helps others do the same! Here is her Ted Talk, “The Hidden Power Of Not (Always) Fitting In”
Terms for Companies with No Central Office / People Hoping to Quit their Day Job
8. Distributed Teams
This lingo adopted by the startup crew is new to me, the “distributed workforce” is hardly new; companies have written about it and practiced it for decades. For modern tech companies it means that team members are located around the globe, maybe in offices or maybe working from home, but connected via collaboration software tools like Slack.
Quick watch/reads: Leading Distributed Teams, an interview with Floyd Marinescu of C4Media The Joys and Benefits of Working as a Distributed Team, Buffer After Growing to 50 People, We’re Ditching the Office Completely: Here’s Why, Buffer
9. Side Hustle / #hustlers / or just Hustle
The relatively new kid on the block, this one is a hot topic. But wait, it’s not new! According to Merriam-Webster, the term first appeared in the 1950s. About a year ago, a friend told me that her life coach friend recommended that she pursue a side hustle because she was burned out at her office job. I didn’t think much of it initially, but my curiosity was piqued enough to follow-up: wait, what was that thing you were talking about? Now it seems that everyone has a hustle, wants one, or truly needs one or more.
Quick reads: How to Stop Your Side-Hustle From Becoming a Pushed-Aside Hustle, Marie Forleo 20 Side Hustles You Can Start ASAP, girlboss Millennials are obsessed with side hustles because they’re all we’ve got, Catherine Baab-Muguira Side Hustle School, Chris Guillebeau 9 Ways to Make Your Side Hustle Feel More Legit – Even if You Haven’t Made Any Money Yet, Nick Loper
And Many More Ways to Convey “No Office”!
There are many more terms related to the ‘no office’ phenomenon: online entrepreneur, lifestyle entrepreneur, flexjobs, virtual, work at home… (Of course, anyone in these categories might opt to work in one of many coworking offices around the world. Another topic!) I’m still not sure which term is my favorite. Maybe there’s room for more ideas? I wish officefree were less weird. Or how about workplacefree?…or maybe not.
Freelance already covers the free aspect. But “the workplace” is slowly becoming a thing of the past and people want to be free to choose the place where they spend the vast majority of their waking hours. We’re evolving!
Do you have a business idea that would allow you to become a workplacefree, location independent, remote working, telecommuting, digital nomad? 😉 Or, do you need any small business legal advice? Check out EPW’s Startup Plan service or schedule a Quick Call!