Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

Apple just told the truth about working from home

Working from home is the future? If that's the case, it's one big mess. At least according to a new Apple ad.

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Mike from Finance has issues.

Screenshot by ZDNet

There's little more personally disturbing than trying to act normal when things are at the outer edges of aberrance.

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Yet here we are on Zoom calls and Teaming with Microsoft and pretending we've got everything under control. When the reality is that there's a virus in our midst and a constant fear in our hearts.

Some companies want you to believe this is the future, one in which those companies will make far more money. They won't have as many employees at the office. And they'll try and pay those who move to nicer, more human places than Silicon Valley considerably less.

I'm oddly reassured that Apple hasn't gone the way of suggesting working from home is the next big, glorious thing.

Cupertino has released a new ad that reveals the true gory mess of attempting to work from your bedroom, living room, or kitchen, while also attempting to live and breathe.

Here isn't the beautifully regimented presentation of Microsoft Teams, with its shared backgrounds full of smiling faces. Instead, here's a team trying to work together in extremely painful domestic circumstances. They need to create new packaging while attempting to please a haughty, ignorant boss.

No, there isn't a Trump joke coming. Apple's far too delicately political for that.

The story before us, all seven minutes of it, reveals the trials of working while looking after kids, dealing with moms, and attempting to get your nerves together when you're living in a one-bedroom apartment the size of a badger's nasal tract.

It's easy to forget what day it is. It seems impossible to corral a team when you're the project manager and two people are talking at the same time during an on-screen brainstorming session. (Those still exist?)

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Of course, the whole point of this is that your iPad, MacBook, and iPhone are the true saviors of your life. Bravo, the Apple at Work product suite. And how wonderful to see helpful product features suddenly being discovered in such stressful times.

Yet watching the ad, it's easy to ignore what these devices are doing, when you're focused on the faces of the employees.

It's reassuring to know, for example, that Mike from Finance resembles so many finance people you know -- as helpful as a power drill during a dental appointment and as caring as a mosquito at dusk.

It's uplifting to see that the whole working-from-home thing has many aspects that are simply worse than being able to commune with co-workers in the comfort of an icy conference room.

Seeing kids beg Siri to tell them a bedtime story because dad has passed out on the floor is all too painfully real. And an indictment.

Seeing how working from home is perhaps the ultimate in work invading your home is a reminder that humanity has managed to bare its heartless haplessness, just as it's flexed its technological prowess.

Those attuned to such things will recognize these characters as having appeared in an Apple ad last year, one in which Apple's gadgets had already allowed work to (begin to) invade their home life.

Now it's gone all the way. Work is home and home is work.

Is this somehow better than before? I'm grateful to Apple for showing it may not be.