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The Downside of ‘Cameras On’ for Virtual Meetings

Sometimes we feel like there are way too many video meetings. Read on to learn why research supports our desire to cut back!

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How many virtual meetings do you have coming up this week? How many of them will be ‘cameras on’? Do you feel exhausted just thinking about these meetings? Sadly, we know ‘Zoom Fatigue’ is a thing, and yet, many companies are requiring cameras for virtual meetings. Today, we dive into what the impact of too many video calls and who it hurts the most.

The Impact of Cameras and Virtual Meetings

A major goal of adding camera usage to virtual meetings is to increase participation and engagement. It is easy to believe that having everyone show their face would encourage people participating. However, recent research shows that this isn’t the case. Having cameras on during virtual meetings leads to higher fatigue. And, that fatigue, makes people less likely to engage and speak up in a meeting. As you can expect, feeling tired is going to hurt your performance and participation overall.

Being on camera for a meeting doesn’t always lead to more participation!

We know that fatigue in virtual meetings is caused by the level of attention required while on camera. You aren’t just listening but you are also monitoring how you look and are trying to visually show that you are paying attention. Being ‘on’ all the time is exhausting! Thus, counter to many leaders’ beliefs, too much camera-time can actually hurt engagement.

Who Suffers Most

If video calls increase fatigue, do we know who is impacted the most? Since inclusion is important for employee well-being and company performance, making sure everyone has a positive experience in meetings is critical. This new study helped identify those most affected by keeping their cameras on all the time. Results showed that women and newer employees were most drained by ‘camera on’ meetings.

Why? Well, while we don’t know all the reasons yet, it is likely because of the extra pressures put on women and new employees. Generally speaking, society puts higher expectations on the appearance of women. Thus, women may be monitoring themselves more on camera leading to higher levels of fatigue. In addition, new employees are under pressure to make a good impression. They are still getting to know people. That could lead to paying more attention to how they appear on camera, leading to higher exhaustion.

Women and new employees are impacted by camera use more than others.

What To Do

Basically, the research points to the need to reduce camera time. Other research we highlighted here talks about some ways to reduce your ‘Zoom Fatigue’. In addition to this, leaders and organizations need to take the lead on reducing these negative impacts of camera use. If you are a leader, make it abundantly clear that camera use is optional. Practice what you preach and keep your own camera off too. It can be hard to break a ‘camera required’ culture, but it will be worth it from an employee wellness and an engagement perspective.

We can’t wait to see what new cool research comes out on this topic. And subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss us interviewing the authors of this awesome new study!

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