Among the most immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was the normalization of remote work, in which employers and employees had to participate virtually. Therefore, workers can choose to be on or off camera during video calls. But is it rude to stay off camera?
TO news week The survey found that older workers in the United States are less bothered by the camera being turned off than a younger generation of employees.
According to a survey of 1,500 eligible U.S. voters conducted in March for news week by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, millennials—those born approximately between 1981 and 1996—formed the highest portion of those who believe it is “rude” to leave your camera off during a remote work meeting.
Our latest poll found that 37 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds and 47 percent of 35-to-44-year-olds “strongly agree” with the above opinion about being off-camera. This compares with only about a fifth of those ages 55 to 64 (about 23 percent) as well as those 65 and older (21 percent) who “strongly agree.”
Why do millennials care to keep the camera on?
Millennials are “digital natives,” Joseph Liu, career change consultant and host of the career relaunch podcast, said news week. “As a generation that is constantly connected, a video call is a way to build stronger and more personal connections with others.”
Millennials are highly team-oriented and view video meetings as a key part of effectively communicating with colleagues in the modern workplace, Liu added.
This generation is generally known for caring about “inclusivity, intentionality, authenticity and transparency,” said Jessica Vann, CEO and founder of recruiting firm Maven Recruiting Group. news week. So it’s no surprise that they think having the cameras turned off is disrespectful and even rude.
“If your camera is off, they don’t feel like you’re being intentional with your time. If your camera is off, they can’t pick up on your body language and your authenticity,” she said. If you don’t explain why your camera is off, you’re “not demonstrating transparency.”
Is it rude and unprofessional to keep the camera off?
Meredith Turney, a consultant who trains various companies on how to bring more “conscious leadership” to work, said news week that it is unprofessional to stay off camera when others are on camera.
“Think about this in the context of what you would do in person. You wouldn’t pull a hoodie over your head or block your face from your team,” he said.
When we are off camera, our colleagues cannot read “important signals” that can be measured on our faces. “If you choose not to participate on camera, you are missing out on the opportunity to become more deeply involved with your team,” Turney said.
Vann said, “There’s a social norm around that everyone does the same thing when it comes to being on screen.” If a person chooses to be off-camera, “it creates an imbalance and discomfort, like being in a one-way mirror or in an interview room—no one wants to feel like they’re speaking or presenting to a blank screen,” she says. saying.
As social creatures, this imbalance creates “an awkward social and dynamic climate,” especially if it’s a small gathering or one-on-one, Vann noted.
Adam Greenwood-Byrne, CEO of RealVNC, a company that provides remote access software, said news weekHe said that while keeping the camera off isn’t strictly unprofessional, it can come off as “rude” if done consistently.
The CEO explained: “Building rapport with your teammates and customers is a vital part of a high performance culture and I believe that is compromised by actively choosing not to share your body language during meetings.”
‘Zoom fatigue is real’
Turney said the only time it’s “appropriate” to be off camera is when you’re not feeling well or are in a place where the background might distract you. In both cases, you need to let your team know why you’re off camera.
Etiquette expert Lisa Mirza Grotts said news week: “Since COVID-19, I don’t think anyone would argue that there has been video fatigue. For those of us who were online day and night, it was exhausting and eye-straining… I don’t see anything wrong with turning off the camera for a short break or other valid reason”.
Dawid Wiacek, a New York City-based career coach and personal brand strategist, said news week that if you constantly keep the camera off, some may make assumptions, even “foolish”, which “have nothing to do with reality.”
But maybe you’re actually doing your job and just exhausted from video conferencing all day, Wiacek said, adding: “Zoom fatigue is real.”
The findings of a 2021 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Journal of Applied Psychology found that “self-introduction and related fatigue costs are exacerbated when the camera is on during virtual meetings.”
The study said its results support an emerging body of research suggesting that “being ‘watched’ increases the need to manage impressions and directs focus inward, which induces fatigue.”
“As such, encouraging employees to use the camera may inadvertently harm positive virtual work behaviors, as fatigue had a detrimental effect on voice and engagement,” the study added.
Do we need to explain why we are off camera?
Jeanne Hardy, founder and CEO of Creative Business Inc., a business services and financial advisory firm, said news week that it’s not rude to have your camera turned off, especially if you’re working from home.
“Remote means not being in the office. People work from anywhere now, not just on the beach, maybe at the house of an elderly parent they’re taking care of. And do they have to explain it to someone? We didn’t have to talk about our personal affairs.” lives and life situations before the pandemic,” she noted.
Is it wrong for my colleagues to judge me for keeping my camera off?
Amanda Fajak, president of North America at Walking The Talk, a global consulting firm, said news week that having a general rule that requires your camera to always be on during meetings “seems extreme.”
She said: “We have to be inclusive and allow people the opportunity to choose how they present themselves.”
However, he doesn’t think it’s unreasonable to ask employees to appear in a video “to encourage openness, connection and engagement across teams.”
Liu said that from a personal branding standpoint, every action you take within your company will have an impact on how you are perceived.
If you choose to keep your camera off, you may be judged or even penalized by your manager or colleagues for doing so, “which may seem unfair but is certainly acceptable,” he said.
Liu said: “When you deviate too far from your organization’s cultural or behavioral norms, including those related to virtual meetings, you need to be prepared for others to judge you negatively.”
What to do if you don’t want to keep the camera on
Wiacek said that if you’re really tired of too many virtual meetings, you should consider watching the video for the first minute or two. Sometimes bosses and other colleagues just need reassurance that “you really are focused and dedicated to the job.”
He suggested saying something like, “Would it be okay if I stayed on audio but turned off video for a few minutes or the rest of the call? My eyes are tired and need a break, and that will help.” concentrate on what is being said.”
The race coach said that with these kinds of explanations, “most people will understand and be amused.”
Greenwood-Byrne said that if you really don’t want to enable your video feed, “providing a proper reason is vital…rather than flatly refusing, which could create conflict and set a bad tone for the meeting from the start.” go.”
Those who are uncomfortable sharing their reasons for being off camera with the entire group on the call should send a private message to their manager or the person organizing the call. You can simply say, “I’ve sent you a quick note to explain why I can’t [be on camera] and I really appreciate the group’s understanding.”