Does the use of video conferencing enhance remote work?

During the pandemic, everyone tried and: enjoyed, hated (right one to be underlined) doing video conferences. I consider myself an early pioneer of the tech, back in 2010 I requested one of the first cameras in the firm to enable better collaboration between the New York, India and Budapest teams. So, does the use of video conferencing truly enhance remote work? Should you call out your college who has not turned on their camera?

So, yes, video conferencing can enhance remote work by providing a way for remote workers to have face-to-face communication, collaborate on projects in real-time, and build stronger relationships with their colleagues. Video conferencing technology helps to overcome the lack of physical proximity and provides a sense of connection and engagement that is crucial for remote teams. However, it’s important to note that the success of video conferencing in enhancing remote work also depends on various factors such as the quality of the technology, internet connection, and the cultural and organizational support for remote work.

But as most cases, there are two sides of the coin. While video conferencing can have benefits for remote work, it can also have some drawbacks. The following are some reasons why video conferencing may not enhance remote work:

  • Technical Issues: Video conferencing can be hindered by technical problems such as poor internet connectivity, audio and video quality, and compatibility issues. This can lead to frustration and decreased productivity for remote workers.
  • Lack of Privacy: Video conferencing can be intrusive and can make it difficult for remote workers to find the privacy they need to focus on their work. Additionally, remote workers may not feel comfortable having personal conversations or performing sensitive tasks on a video call.
  • Excessive Screen Time: Video conferencing can increase screen time, leading to eye strain and other physical problems. This can be especially challenging for remote workers who may be required to participate in multiple video calls throughout the day.
  • Culture & Interpersonal Challenges: Video conferencing can also create cultural and interpersonal challenges, especially for remote workers who may not be familiar with the norms and expectations of virtual communication. This can lead to miscommunication and decreased team morale.

In conclusion, while video conferencing can have benefits for remote work, it’s important to be mindful of its potential drawbacks and to take steps to minimize them in order to enhance remote work for all team members.

On the other hand (yes, it’s like a pendulum 😀 ), there are several reasons why you should turn on your camera during a remote video conference call:

  • Improved Communication: Having a visual component to the call helps to build stronger connections and facilitates better communication between participants. It allows for nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language to be visible, which can enhance understanding and foster a sense of presence.
  • Increased Engagement: Turning on your camera can increase engagement and participation in the call, as it allows you to be more present and attentive to the conversation.
  • Better Team Dynamics: Seeing each other on camera can help to build a more personal connection and improve team dynamics. This can be particularly important for remote teams who may not have the opportunity to interact in person.
  • Professionalism: In a professional setting, turning on your camera can demonstrate that you are fully engaged and respectful of others’ time.
  • Technical Considerations: In some cases, video conferencing software may require you to turn on your camera in order to access certain features or participate in certain activities.

Note: It’s important to consider the technical requirements and cultural norms of your team, as well as personal preferences and privacy concerns when deciding whether or not to turn on your camera during a remote video conference call. Speaking of norms, similarly how chatting have its norm (see ), video conferencing etiquette is a set of guidelines that help to ensure that remote meetings are productive, professional, and respectful of everyone’s time and space. Here are some video conferencing etiquette dos and don’ts:

Test your technology before the call to ensure it is working properly.
Dress appropriately as you would for an in-person meeting.
Turn on your camera, if possible, to improve communication and engagement.
Mute your microphone when you are not speaking to reduce background noise.
Keep your surroundings tidy and professional looking.
Arrive on time and be prepared for the meeting.
Use the chat feature to share any important information or documents.
Be attentive and actively participate in the conversation.
Speak clearly and use appropriate language and tone.
End the call promptly when it has concluded.
Do not multitask during the call, it shows lack of engagement and respect.
Do not eat or drink during the call.
Do not interrupt others when they are speaking.
Do not engage in personal or off-topic conversations.
Do not use inappropriate or offensive language.
Do not share confidential or sensitive information.
Do not use a distracting background or have a messy room in the background.
Do not ignore technical difficulties or dismiss them as unimportant.
Do not use your phone or other devices during the call.
Do not end the call abruptly or without warning.

Did I commit all of the don’ts at least once in my lifetime? Most probably – yes 😀 In conclusion, by following these video conferencing etiquette dos and don’ts, you can help to ensure that remote meetings are productive, professional, and respectful of everyone’s time and space. Like, with the video on, probably even more important to have an actual agenda, have the sections start and finish on time, not to run over, etc. To share materials beforehand as you cannot be sure the device the other side connecting through would display yours adequately. To have your name and – if you wish – your pronoun on your display name – noone likes to address “iPhone9”. To try to engage more – polls, active chat using Q&A, etc tend to be useful.

Of course, this is not an area without research. Research studies (like this HBR) on the use of cameras for remote calls have shown mixed results. Some studies have found that the use of cameras in remote calls can enhance communication, build stronger relationships, and increase engagement and participation. For example, a study by the University of California, Irvine found that video conferencing improved nonverbal communication, leading to more accurate understanding and more effective collaboration.

On the other hand, some studies have shown that the use of cameras in remote calls can be intrusive and can lead to increased self-consciousness, decreased comfort, and reduced communication quality. For example, a study by the University of Haifa found that remote participants who had their cameras turned on felt more self-conscious and reported lower levels of comfort and privacy compared to participants who had their cameras turned off.

So, I don’t think there is an easy answer for this question either…