Additionally, a cameraless 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 more often to their new colleagues, she says. Women are also affected, as they are more likely to work from home due to childcare. Additionally, this same research found that introverts experience zoom fatigue more intensely than extroverts. Turning off the camera could help ease the stress on workers in those many groups that could be most affected.
What is the best practice for the future?
The good news is that things could change. While Gabriel thinks seeing people in front of the camera genuinely helps workers who miss their co-workers, video call burnout and greater pressure for worker flexibility could move the Zoom etiquette in a new direction.
Some companies have already made cameras optional, especially as more and more research claims that a camera-optional approach is better for people’s mental health. Gabriel says we’re at an “inflection point, to let people really create work environments and workplaces that work for them rather than against them.”
People will find different balances. Shen says that while seeing people on video calls is beneficial, “it may not always be necessary.” She suggests a team could do three days with cameras on a week and two days off, or something similar, to alleviate Zoom fatigue. “I think it’s something companies can be a little smarter about, or at least give people a break,” she says.
Bosses also need to trust workers and accept that if the cameras are off, that doesn’t mean people are disengaged. “Often we look at the camera as the only indicator of engagement, but what if we were more careful to use other features, like polls and chat, where it doesn’t matter if someone’s camera is lit or not?” said Gabriel. She says Zoom has many features — besides the camera — that show workers participating in meetings.
It’s also crucial, she thinks, that whoever leads the call sets the right tone and tells attendees that it’s not mandatory to have cameras on – whether it’s the manager of a one-off or business meeting when it comes to setting a distance. achieve the policies or rules in place.
Companies and bosses still attached to “cameras on” should ask themselves why they think they need them. If it’s because they’re worried about workers having fun, Gabriel and Shen point out that the workforce has done well on old-fashioned conference calls for decades. Having new platforms like Zoom doesn’t necessarily mean that everything about old practices is obsolete.
“Just because technology can do something doesn’t mean it always makes sense to us,” Shen says.