Revealed: The most annoying office buzzwords of 2018

office jargon

While there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’, there are three in ‘irritating’ which is how one in three Brits would describe hearing that cliché at work.

Buzzwords and jargon seem to be unavoidable in the modern workplace, no matter how annoying people might find them. Business telecommunications provider, 4Com, has looked into the phenomenon, surveying office workers across the UK to discover the nation’s most irritating office jargon.

The top 15 most annoying buzzwords and phrases are:

  1. There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’ (32%)
  2. Let’s touch base (24%)
  3. Thinking outside the box (21.3%)
  4. 110 percent (15%)
  5. I’ll just ping that over (14%)
  6. Let’s arrange a chemistry meeting (14%)
  7. No brainer (13%)
  8. Smashed it (13%)
  9. Close of play (13%)
  10. Game-changer (11%)
  11. Having bandwidth to take on more (11%)
  12. Win-win (11%)
  13. Run the numbers (11%)
  14. Play hardball (10%)
  15. It’s on my radar (10%)

Despite one in three (31%) of those surveyed agreeing that office jargon is annoying, almost a quarter (23%) admitted that they used buzzwords daily, and one in fifty confessing to using them every hour!

Additionally, the survey looked into the jargon that UK workers use most often. The top 15 most common office buzzwords and phrases are:

  1. ASAP (50%)
  2. No brainer (42%)
  3. Thinking outside the box (41%)
  4. To be fair (38%)
  5. At the end of the day (37%)
  6. Win-win (35%)
  7. Catch up (32%)
  8. Give you a heads up (29%)
  9. I’ve got a lot on my plate (27%)
  10. Close of play (27%)
  11. Back to the drawing board (26%)
  12. Best practice (25%)
  13. Hit the ground running (20)
  14. There’s no ‘I’ in team (19%)
  15. Smashed it (19%)

The least irritating, but commonplace office phrase is asking to “catch up” rather than to discuss – only 2% said this bugs them. It begs the question why is office slang so widespread when one in four people (24%) admit to having used buzzwords like “square the circle”, “blue sky thinking” or “unstructured data” without being fully sure of their meaning?

Some admit that they have fallen into using these phrases without really noticing, while others intentionally use this language at work to make themselves appear more professional. A portion of workers even confessed they like it when their colleagues use office jargon and buzzwords (9%).

Commenting on the research, Mark Pearcy, Head of Marketing at 4Com said, “We can all be guilty of using the odd buzzword or two when talking to colleagues. It might sound snappier in an email, but unless the person receiving it knows exactly what you mean, there’s not much point!

“As a telecoms provider, we are all about communication – the more straightforward, the better. When it comes to making a point or explaining your ideas, it’s definitely more important to be understood than to sound slick.”

To help you find out how you fare when it comes to office jargon, 4Com has created a quiz to help Brits identify how annoying they are in the workplace based on the buzzwords and phrases they use the most. Try it out here and see if you are better than your colleagues. True, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there’s definitely an ‘M’ and an ‘E’.