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

Microsoft's unsung contribution to work in 2020 is a sheer delight

You may not have seen it. You may not have even heard about it. But it's there and it's quaintly powerful.

screen-shot-2020-12-10-at-6-11-21-pm.png

Someone had the seed of a good idea and simply let it be.

Screenshot by ZDNet

You find your succor where you can these days.

Whatever or whoever gets you through, you're grateful.

I've relied on various friends, authors, and wine varietals. The good fortune to have lunch with my wife on a regular basis, too.

But I'd like to thank Microsoft for making a tiny contribution to my mental wellbeing, likely without ever knowing it.

A lone person among the company's cadre -- or perhaps there are several of them -- has taken it upon themselves to create tiny glimpses of pandemic work life that drift somewhere between haiku and high drama.

Should you not yet have encountered them, Microsoft's Twitter account is peppered with small pictures of Zoom life -- I mean, Microsoft Teams life -- during COVID times.

Amid all the serious tweets about how truly wonderful Microsoft is on a daily basis, these tiny gems lurk with wink and leave you smilingly disarmed.

A sample from Thursday: 

*Waves but doesn't unmute.*

Yes, that's it. That's the tweet.

Another Thursday offering:

Brad: "Hey everyone, I need to jump to another call."

You: "Wow, Brad."

To the lay Twitter rubbernecker, these cameos often bring a smile or merely a positive snort. They're not Voltaire or Montaigne, but they're a touching recognition of what many working lives currently are.

From Tuesday:

You: "Does anyone have any questions before we move on?"

Us: "Yeah, what day is it?"

There's never an explanation. There's only the thought. It's like Scenes From A Marriage, with Ingmar Bergman in a good mood.

For all I know, these could all be the precise recountings of Microsoft meetings that day. But who could not feel solidarity with this:

You: "I seem to be having some Wi-Fi issues, just get started without me."

Everyone else: "We'll wait."

These things come out of nowhere and disappear into nowhere. Yet, in the moment while they're there in front of you, there's something so welcome about them.

A recent tweet, for example, offered: "Next slide, please."

I want to know what motivated it, but I know it's better not to. It's just there, another tiny chapter in a story unlikely to end.

This was one of my favorites, too. The words "It's been a year. Share all that apply." Among the choices: "You barely used any slide transitions in PowerPoint this year. Are you OK?"

Microsoft hasn't always laughed at itself easily. That's partly because others were so used to laughing at Redmond.

Now a touch more emotionally confident, the company seems able to mine more interesting feelings.

When one of these philosophical tweets wafts down my timeline, I find myself appreciating both the effort and the consistency.

Another one from this month:

*Joins meeting*

*Oh, my. Someone else is already here. I've never met them before. Do I say hi?*

"Hello."

"Hello."

*Mutes mic.*

Knowing who's writing these things would spoil my enjoyment, just a little.

I want to believe there's a resident poet of the workplace, an engineer who dropped out and who's now living in a tiny shed in a very large field. Somewhere in the wilds of Washington state.

The poet doesn't need accolades. The poet just wants to be left alone to post pithy scenes.

I'll leave you with one more:

You, writing an email to a coworker: "Just what you need, another email."

Also you: *sends email.*

One of the finer expressions of the modern human condition.