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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: How to get remote work right
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Cisco's Webex fails to read the room and I just want to cry

What would possess Cisco to tell you that everything you've experienced over the last year could have been different?


The joy of Webex. Apparently.

Screenshot by ZDNet

So you think the last year's been difficult, do you?

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You think spending ten hours a day on Zoom calls and then being invited to a (compulsory) virtual Happy Hour wasn't the ideal scenario for your turn of the decade life?

You think being monitored to within an inch of your bathroom is somehow unreasonable?

What a ingrate you must be. Working from home is a thing of uncontrolled joy.

Please, I did write those words down, but they're really not my sincere feelings toward you. They seem to be those of a brand you may know well.

You see, I've been invaded by a piece of communication that has my eyebrows desperate for a fringe to hit and my eyes withering into tears.

There I was wafting about Twitter and there was this promoted message from Cisco: "Webex: When work becomes joy."

You miserable person, you. You've been using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. No wonder your work life has made you want to ululate to the rafters in anguish.

If only, if only you'd been using Webex you'd be gushing positivity of Scientological proportions.

But wait, you'll be wondering how Cisco justifies this. I confess I was. Well, the ad, which is constantly being promoted in my Twitter feed, begins: "When you're having one of those days where work just flows and you're energized by the outcome...."

We all have those days. How many have you had lately? Or have you been more energized by seven Red Bulls and a vodka chaser?

And then our warm, breathy voiceover really says the words: "THIS is when work becomes joy."

Surely she's kidding, I hear you hope. Surely she's not suggesting that just by being on Webex you'll experience raptures bordering on the unbecoming.

Well, here's her next line: "This is what happens on Webex."

Has Webex not heard of all the research -- some of the most interesting coming from Microsoft -- that many employees (but certainly not all) are in despair at their working-from-home experiences over the last year? They're burning out. They're far, far more miserable than, say, their bosses.

What will they think when they hear Cisco telling them working from home would be a joy if only they'd used Webex?

And even those who have found working at home an unusually liberating experience, are they going to believe that all that stands between them and euphoria is Webex?

I'm sorry if I sound oddly intemperate, but please could you do some research for me? Please could you ask all your Webex-using friends and colleagues how many have experienced such uncontrolled rapture that their eyes bulge in wonder?

There does seem to be something peculiar going on in Webex's marketing department. Not so long ago, it emitted an ad that tried to make Webex seem sexy rather than, say, Webex.

In advertising, there's suspension of disbelief and then there's suspension of all your human and critical faculties.

I'm sure Webex has many aspects that are very useful. [Editor's note: Try Webex here to see for yourself if it delivers more joy than other popular conferencing platforms such as Blue Jeans, Teams and GoToMeeting.] I'm equally sure that using Webex does not suddenly transport you into paroxysms of celestial working-from-home uplift.

Because it can't.