Bosses think turning off camera during work video calls is a bad idea
Faced with the large increase in video calls as a result of the pandemic, many workers experienced an exhaustion associated with them that a Standford University research baptized as ‘Zoom fatigue’.
That study recommended that professionals switch off the camera, at least for some time, to reduce this feeling of fatigue and improve their well-being, but now another study, in this case a survey by the software company Vyopta, points out that this action harms employees in the long term, since many managers believe that those who remain in the dark are less committed to the company.
Vyopta’s survey shows that 92% of managers surveyed believe that employees who leave the camera switched off during video call meetings have no long-term future in the company, as they see it as a sign of a general lack of commitment to their work.
Likewise, 43% of respondents suspect that employees who remain in the dark and silent during video calls are surfing the Internet or on social networks, while 40% think they are texting or chatting. For this survey, 200 U.S. managers from companies with more than 500 employees were questioned.
Disadvantage for teleworkers.
The survey also shows that the vast majority of the executives surveyed, 96% of them, believe that remote workers are at a disadvantage compared to those who work in the office, and 94% of these executives think that teleworkers are less connected and have fewer opportunities for advancement within the company.
Despite all this, almost half of the respondents (49%) acknowledge that the lack of commitment they perceive in some of their employees is partly the fault of the executives themselves, who are not knowing how to find the key to encourage it sufficiently in hybrid and remote environments.
For example, 48% of them cite excessive meetings as one of the main reasons why they think employees are less and less engaged in video calls, and that the high number of these meetings corresponds to the rapid transition to hybrid and remote environments, which has prevented them from finding the best way to collaborate remotely at any given time.
Engagement and productivity.
This perception of lower engagement by managers contrasts with the results of another study, in this case from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which notes that keeping cameras off, both their own and others’, eliminates distractions and allows meeting attendees to better focus on what the people speaking are saying, thereby improving the productivity of these workers.
In addition, the previously cited Standford University research on ‘Zoom fatigue’ points out that video calls make the brain work harder to pick up on the non-verbal communication of other users, since on screen gestures may not be captured well and there are bodily expressions that have completely different connotations in a domestic context than in a professional one. Such burnout associated with video would worsen the performance of distributed teams.
Inequality in video calls
Another negative consequence of video in video calls, according to the results of this Carnegie Mellon University study, is that it can contribute to some attendees dominating the conversation thanks to their better handling of nonverbal communication, especially when it comes to video conferences with many people. The absence of an image, on the other hand, makes for more respect for speaking turns and a more equitable and fluid dialogue.
“Surprisingly, our findings suggest that access to video may impede the development of verbal communication by creating greater speaking turn inequality, refuting the commonly accepted idea that multimedia enhances distributed collaboration,” the study notes.