Those of us who recognize that having your camera on for every meeting is not just pointless, but actually damaging, are going to have a hard road ahead to overcome this bias:
“Historically, workers have felt pressure to be visible in front of the boss. In the office, that might mean working long hours, networking or simply finding ways to draw attention to your contribution. Once remote work started, that pressure to be seen shifted to virtual meetings. Staff felt they had to have cameras on so the bosses could see them and their commitment.
Research shows workers have read their employers right; data shows bosses fear staff whose cameras are off may be slacking. One 2022 survey showed 92% of executives believe people who turn their cameras off don’t have a long-term future at the company.”
The article goes on to point out how distracting and exhausting being on camera all the time can be. So what can we do:
If your boss requires you to be “on-camera” for meetings, at the very least use the option in Zoom, or Teams to hide your own video.
If you’re running a meeting, feel free to tell everyone to turn their camera off. This applies especially if you are presenting anything. You want people to pay attention to what is on the screen, not the facial expressions of everyone else.
Stop considering people who aren’t on camera as less engaged. This is just your bias. Your smartest employees understand the additional stress being on camera causes and take every opportunity to limit that effect for themselves. Keep people who are that self-aware.
Recently, I was doing a training session with some new employees and started off by telling them to turn their cameras off. I am fairly sure it was their favorite meeting of their week.
Think about how easy that was. I was showing them how to use a cloud tool, I wanted them focused on the screen, what I was doing and what I was saying about what I was doing. They were. I didn’t need their cameras to tell me that.