About a third of people currently working from home do not turn on their camera for meetings or virtual interactions, according to a recent study.
The survey included responses from about 2,000 Americans, many of whom have enjoyed virtual happy hours or socialized via video chat during quarantine. However, many of these respondents are also using video chat apps to interact with coworkers or clients for work.
1 in 3 Cover Their Webcam Working from Home
So what does this finding mean for small businesses exactly? Basically, the fact that many people do not turn on their cameras points to some employees or business owners feeling self conscious about their appearance or their surroundings while working from home. Many of those workers are set up in makeshift offices or making do at their couch or kitchen table. And they may not have as much time to get ready for the day while they juggle work with taking care of their home and kids.
In fact, 42% of respondents said that they feel self conscious about co-workers seeing their homes during video chat sessions. And 52% said they look at themselves on the screen more than they’d like during these virtual gatherings.
For small businesses, the knowledge that about a third of your team and the people you’re meeting with may not want their home and their appearance featured in video chats may impact your meeting habits. If some of your communications could be done via voice, email, or IM, it may help team members feel more comfortable and confident throughout the day. And for those instances where you do need to use actual video, try to schedule calls ahead of time rather than surprising people who may not feel ready.
Vanity Reigns Supreme
Currently, only about 22% of respondents say that they dress differently for virtual gatherings. And 17% use features like filters to touch up their appearance in videos. About 20% also use custom backgrounds during video chats so people cannot see their home in the background.
These features provide options for those who have to join video meetings or chat with coworkers face to face. They’re great if people don’t have time to tidy up their space or freshen up their appearance beforehand.
The Touch Up My Appearance Feature is available on the desktop and mobile versions of Zoom. And many other video chat platforms include filters that you can use to make yourself look more polished. This option softens your appearance. They can help hide the fact you’re not wearing make-up. Or maybe they’ll dull those dark circles under your eyes from a lack of sleep.
Zoom and some other video chat platforms also offer the ability to change your background, essentially covering up your messy space for meetings or events. According to the survey, the most popular backgrounds include the beach, natural landscape photos, and memes. The natural landscapes may be a bit more appropriate for formal business meetings. But humorous images may also help to lighten the mood in some meetings where you know all the participants.
These findings could simply help business owners and professionals give each other more grace. Knowing everyone on your team feels a bit self conscious may help you normalize it a bit. Instead of judging, you can all move on from those details and just focus on the content of the discussion.
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