Also, a camera-free approach has the potential to create more inclusive organizations, says Gabriel. Research shows that newcomers to organizations may experience more Zoom fatigue because they feel it’s especially important to show their face to their new colleagues more often, she says. Women are also affected because they are more likely to work from home due to childcare. Additionally, the same study found that introverts experience zoom fatigue more than extroverts. Turning off the camera could help alleviate stress for workers in these many groups that may be hardest hit.
What is best practice for the future?
The good news is that things could change. While Gabriel believes seeing people on camera really helps workers who miss their co-workers, burnout on video calls and a greater push for flexibility from workers could push Zoom etiquette in a new direction.
Some companies have already made cameras optional, as more research suggests that an optional approach with cameras is better for people’s mental health. Gabriel says we’re at a “tipping point to really let people design work environments and workplaces that work for them, rather than against them.”
People will find different balances. Shen says that while it’s beneficial to be able to see people on video calls, “it’s not always necessary.” She suggests a team could spend three days a week on cameras and two days off, or something similar to alleviate zoom fatigue. “I think that’s something that companies can be a little more sensible about, or at least give people a break,” she says.
Bosses also need to trust workers and accept that when the cameras are off, it doesn’t mean employees are unmotivated. “Often we think of the camera as the only indicator of engagement, but what if we were more careful about other features like the polls and chat, where it doesn’t matter whether a person’s camera is on or not?” says Gabriel. She says Zoom has many features — besides the camera — that show employees are attending meetings.
She believes it’s also crucial that whoever is directing the call strikes the right tone and tells participants that cameras aren’t necessary — whether it’s the leader of a one-off meeting or the company when it’s far away. achieve guidelines or rules.
Companies and bosses who still rely on “cameras on” should ask themselves why they think they need them. If it’s because they fear workers are fooling around, Gabriel and Shen point out that the workforce has functioned well with old-fashioned conference calls for decades. Having new platforms like Zoom doesn’t necessarily mean that everything about older practices is obsolete.
“Just because the technology can do something doesn’t mean it always makes sense to us,” says Shen.