Be real: how many times have you been on a Zoom call with a button-up shirt or a nice blouse (and, of course, sweatpants or gym shorts off-camera) so that you could look presentable for a meeting that could have been an email? How many times have you wished you could keep the camera off altogether?
Experts say that the expectation of an “all cameras on” Zoom meeting can be problematic, and despite what employers believe, it can cause productivity loss.
See, employers are tied to this idea of cameras on calls because it most accurately reflects what it’s like to check in on people in an office, where a manager might wander around a bit to make sure everyone’s getting stuff done. And at the beginning of the pandemic, it was even reasonable since part of what we got out of Zoom calls was that human interaction we were missing in lockdown.
But now, experts say that having cameras on can cause more harm than good because people focus less on the meeting and more on how they look or trying to interpret social cues that are easier to understand in person. This can be exhausting, leading to “Zoom fatigue,” which is the tiredness you might feel after a long period of trying to focus on a meeting and deal with all of the complicated social things you’re used to dealing with in real life.
So, for plenty of people, a cameras-off approach might be the way to go since it allows employees to reduce their Zoom fatigue and even may let them do other productive things, like take notes or look through other tabs to see what they can bring to the conversation.
Basically, just because we like to wear our sweatpants and have messy hair at our home office doesn’t mean we’re any less productive.