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Microsoft made a joke about Teams. It contained a bitter truth

It's heartening when a company admits the limitations of its own products. And of people.
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Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributor on
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Will anyone be waving? GM won't.

Screenshot by ZDNet

It can be numbing after a while.

You go from one meeting to the next, desperately trying to remember what was just said in the last one and what the next one is even about.

When the pandemic came along, the numbness enjoyed a different tone. 

Suddenly, you were stuck in front of a screen for hours at a time. You still struggled to maintain a grasp of what these meetings were all about, but you had the bonus of screen fatigue. The feeling that you were trapped in Groundhog Day, Metaverse Edition. 

But you still wanted to show your bonhomie. So you did what everyone did: wave goodbye at the end of each meeting. This was awkward at times. One Microsoft engineer even created credits to signal a meeting is over.

As far as Microsoft is concerned, that politeness of waving is so last year.

In a tweet sent from its official -- and occasionally enjoyable -- account, Microsoft observed: "2021: energetically waves at the end of a Teams meeting. 2022: abruptly clicks 'leave meeting' before meeting ends."

Where once the wave seemed to indicate that we're all in this together and we want to express warm feelings toward each other, now we're thinking different.

This Teams thing is now no different from the office conference room or Huddle House. (Surely some tech company has a Huddle House.)

We're working, just like we always worked before, but with a few new logistical obstacles.

Why bother with last year's Living In An Uncertain World nicety when now it's supposed to be back to normal?

Perhaps we're not so in this together, after all. Perhaps we're back to doing a job and the tools are still imperfect.

Suddenly, we don't feel like waving.

I confess I've seen this pattern quite a bit of late. The Teams wave has gone the way of the Mexican one.

It was uplifting once. Now, it's a touch gauche.

Now, many people don't even want to show their faces during meetings, preferring to listen and offer the occasional um, ah, oh, or hurrah.

It's heartening that Microsoft itself recognizes this. It knows Teams is imperfect. It sees users' behavior on it and it knows people are imperfect too.

Some might imagine, however, that this painful little truth may encourage companies to bring everyone back to the office.

Work is different when you're all in the same physical surroundings. Life, too.

You can go to bad lunch places and gossip. You can whisper in corridors and quietly spy on new alliances being made.

And if you want to leave a meeting early, you merely look worried, harried, or both -- and just get up and go.

But it's not so easy to go walk your dog at the office, is it?

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