Camera Shy Employees? Avoid Negative Assumptions By Communicating With Your Team

Managers face a new challenge with videoconferencing - employees who do not want to be on video.

Some managers assume that when an employee does not turn on their camera, that employee is not engaged in the meeting and is most likely attending to non-work activities.

Some managers react by thinking these employees are likely to have a short time with the organization or will be passed over for promotions or project leadership positions.

Often managers make these assumptions without talking to the employees about their reluctance to appear on camera. The reality is that while the "workforce is built for extroverts, nearly half of workers are introverts" and being camera shy is normal. This shyness can come from several things but often the consensus is that most people do not like looking at themselves on camera or are very self-conscious about their appearance.

Experts suggest managers try a variety of tactics to help their camera-shy employees, such as: requiring them to turn on their camera at the beginning and end of the meeting to say hello and goodbye; turn off the self-view function so employees do not see themselves; and offering camera-free days, such as Fridays. It is also important that managers acknowledge the difficulty some employees have in having the camera on and to express their appreciation when they utilize it. www.shrm.com (May 11, 2022).

Commentary

According to an article by Workest, colleagues seeing each other’s faces is essential in building trust and rapport. Nevertheless, there is also value in allowing employees to be present “voice only”, especially for meetings with less collaboration.

It was not so long ago that meetings via speakerphone were valued as extremely productive because it allowed people to meet outside the office. With cameras, we have the option of visuals, but we should not dismiss as unproductive “voice only” meetings.

For managers, you should set clear expectations for virtual meetings following your organization’s policies and procedures. If deciding whether meeting participants are “on or off” camera is your decision, you should communicate to your employees ahead of time if a meeting is “on or off camera”. Follow your organizations dress policy for meetings, virtual or otherwise, if you have one, but be flexible with interruptions by children and pets.

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