Why People Hate Turning on Cameras in Remote Meetings

Working from home is new for a lot of people. For some, it’s awkward not walking into a meeting, not saying “hi” to coworkers in the morning, or not talking in the break room. And another one of those odd feelings is turning on cameras in remote meetings.


Even confident coworkers get “stage fright” in front of the camera.


Or do they?


Let's see what statistics have to say about turning on cameras in remote meetings, and whether they’re beneficial.


Do Remote Working Teams Hate Turning on Their Camera?

A recent survey found that 49% of respondents believe that being on their webcams for meetings makes employees feel exhausted. The studies show that many workers and teams don’t prefer turning on their cameras.


The study found:

  • 61% of respondents attend mandated meetings

  • Introverts are self-conscious on camera

  • Younger workers, often females between 18 and 24, prefer voice rather than getting dressed up and wasting time putting on makeup

  • 33% of companies require cameras on at all times

  • 50% of people strongly dislike impromptu meetings

Exhausted workers, those that are on camera and in meetings more often, are less productive. Interestingly, 31% said meetings lead to medium productivity and 26% reported low productivity during webcam meetings.


The one time that workers tend to prefer turning on their cameras is when used in team events. More than 65% of people in the survey state that using the camera is good for team engagement and connection, like during virtual happy hours. But there's an issue: only 11% report that they’re asked to use a camera for team engagement.


Is Turning on Your Camera Really Effective for Communication?

In terms of productivity, it’s clear that meetings seem to hamper a lot of employee productivity. An interesting study examined individuals from multiple universities and found video didn’t:

  • Improve the ability to solve problems

  • Improve group intelligence

Instead, the study concluded that people rely more on the audio cues in a meeting rather than the visual cues. Audio conversations led to participants being better at speaking during a meeting and also improved the conversation.


The researchers believe that by limiting video, it’s possible to reduce stimuli that’s deemed distracting. Furthermore, an additional study found that video adds cognitive load to the meeting. Remote teams are concerned about the facial expressions that they make and their body language when the camera is on.


Audio, on the other hand, enables people to better hear emotions and provides an environment where it’s easier to speak to your colleagues.


Final Thoughts

Are there too many online meetings in the work-from-home or remote team environment? Do you think that many of these meetings can be an audio call?


If so, you’re not alone.


Remote teams are under increasing pressure to be on their webcam rather than focusing on what’s more important: productivity. Team leaders and policymakers should consider audio calls for meetings, especially when teams are involved without having to stare at their own faces which can lead to "Zoom Fatigue" easily.