With COVID-19 acting as a catalyst for exponential growth in online meetings, those of us who were new to remote work had to adjust by making friends with our cameras. While applications like FaceTime and Snapchat are common for use with friends and family, we don’t always feel the same excitement when it comes to professional video conferencing. With personal video tools, users don’t feel the same pressure to be camera-ready – and family members tend to be far more forgiving of that pile of laundry or dog barking in the background!
But no matter how you feel about webcams, there are a variety of reasons that make activating them beneficial during the remote workday. In fact, according to our own product data, webcam usage in GoToMeeting has grown 4x compared to last year! There’s no doubt video conferencing has helped foster personal connections in place of being in the office, and users are taking note. Still, there remains work to be done educating users on its many benefits. So without further ado, here are six reasons to consider turning on that camera during your next virtual meeting.
1. Holds you accountable and focused
When your webcam is off, it’s easy to take care of unrelated tasks. Colleagues can’t see you texting a friend, checking your kid’s homework or scrolling through your social media feed while the TV blares away in the background.
But that’s not the kind of multitasking that helps you stay productive with work, nor is it respectful of your team’s efforts to move a project forward.
When your webcam is on, everyone can see what you’re up to (or at least focused on). This awareness keeps you actively present and in-sync with what’s happening on the call. Your colleagues know you’re actively engaged, and, in turn, you’re more likely to be focused on the task at hand and what needs to be accomplished.
2. Creates better connections and engagement with your team
Online communications, such as email, instant message and chat, are rife with the opportunity for misinterpretation. That’s especially true when busy colleagues and teammates shortcut their messaging with emojis and text lingo. Without a clear sense of what they mean, you may reach the wrong conclusion or perhaps you may not feel like a genuine conversation is taking place.
However, seeing your team on camera encourages real conversations and interaction. It also minimizes misunderstandings. In turn, that visual connection builds trust and confidence that you will get your work done and your colleagues are there to help should you need it.
3. Offers a way to add more visuals and information to the meeting
Even though you can share your screen and still keep your webcam off, there may be situations where what you have to offer isn’t on your computer.
For example, brainstorming sessions would benefit from someone having a whiteboard to write ideas down. Or perhaps you have physical items to share to show the team for their input—for example, branded merchandise—where a photo doesn’t offer the best visual display. Turning on your webcam helps everyone see what you want to share and creates a more vivid, lasting impression compared to simply talking about it.
Since everyone is working from home, turning on your webcam also creates opportunities for some fun “show and tell” sessions, where you can share more of your personal life including your pets, kids, or home. A little social interaction like this helps team members get to know each other and develop more appreciation for each other.
4. Minimizes any sense of isolation you may feel
Even the most introverted person has found it challenging at some point during the last six months to work solely from home with minimal travel, errand-running and social activities as a break from the routine. There is a sense of isolation and loneliness when you can’t see colleagues, friends, and family in person for long lengths of time.
Using a webcam allows for an environment that is closer to in-person connections than communication channels like phone, SMS or instant messaging. Seeing those faces offers greater familiarity and reminds you of what it felt like when you were together.
5. Helps you read what others mean beyond their words
Facial expressions and other types of body language speak volumes and help us decipher what others really mean. You lose significant context from those non-verbal cues by leaving your webcam off. Seeing what the other person is saying and how they say it clarifies meaning and reduces misunderstandings.
6. Motivates you to get dressed
While it’s nice to work in your pajamas sometimes – let’s be honest, we’ve all done it – over time, it could actually negatively impact your mindset and hinder productivity. (For your subconscious, it’s easy to associate sweats with relaxing and Netflix binging!)
Turning on your webcam means you have a compelling reason to get dressed and look presentable. That can put you in the proper frame of mind for productive work. Consequently, you’ll find it easier to separate your work time from your personal time while you use your home for both aspects of your life.