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Do all virtual meetings or conferences require video? Let’s discuss

The COVID-19 pandemic propelled virtual meetings and conferences to the forefront of businesses and other institutions such as schools and universities. Now that we have come out of lockdowns and are normalising our way of life after the peak of the pandemic, virtual meetings and conferences are still popular as they were back then.

For organisations with remote workers in particular, virtual meetings are ideal for facilitating communication and collaboration between remote and office employees, or between fully remote employees residing in different areas of the country. 

But, the question is – should their cameras be turned on every time?

Virtual meetings

Businesses are leveraging the use of efficient voice and video conferencing solutions (https://www.gamma.co.uk/products/microsoft-teams-telephony/) to help them host virtual meetings and conference calls that are of high quality and are reliable. 

As previously mentioned, virtual meetings and conferences are particularly beneficial for companies with remote or hybrid workers, enabling them to effectively connect with others via video and voice calls. 

Voice and video

Unlike direct messaging apps that allow people to simply type and send a message to each other, voice and video calls are much more engaging and require further attention and interaction. 

Despite being given the option of video, many people prefer to simply use voice instead, turning their cameras off completely. When this happens, there is a feeling of disengagement from the one who does not have their video turned on. 

If the other person has their camera on, this can possibly become excruciatingly awkward, especially for this person who may feel that they are talking to just a digital screen, not a person behind the screen. 

The essence of virtual meetings and conferences is to replicate face-to-face meetings, but digitally. Seeing each other’s facial expressions, body language, talking cues, etc. can help make the meeting livelier and engaging, instead of people talking to each other through screens. 

When video isn’t needed

On the other hand, there are many reasons why an employee may prefer to have their camera off at each virtual meeting or conference. Virtual meetings were something that employees had to adapt to as a result of the pandemic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were comfortable with it.

Having your colleagues take a glimpse into your own personal space can be greatly uncomfortable for many, so having the video turned off can be a relief for some employees. However, many platforms have introduced ways for employees to feel more comfortable during virtual meetings such as the implementation of virtual backgrounds which can help with privacy concerns.

Meanwhile, it’s also worth noting that according to HR professionals, there are some instances where cameras being turned off is appropriate. For example, if an employee is unwell but still attends the meeting, as well as impromptu meetings, and situations where the background could distract other attendees.

As you can see, whilst it’s a good idea to encourage employees to turn their cameras on, sometimes this may not be possible, but it shouldn’t always be seen as unprofessional. Employees can still engage with the meeting without having their camera turned on.

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