young woman smiling (l) young woman scowling with coffee mug (r) caption 'Why don't you ever turn your camera on?'

@grumpmugs/TikTok

‘I refuse to waste my makeup like that’: Worker re-ignites debate over having camera off during Zoom meetings

‘They don’t understand we’re doing them a favor by keeping that camera off.’

 

Braden Bjella

IRL

Camera on, or camera off? In an age of remote work, it’s a question asked by many—and one that sees fierce debate from employers and employees alike.

Now, a user on TikTok has gone viral and sparked another discussion on the topic after posting a video revealing why one might not want to be visible during their work-from-home hours.

In a video with over 285,000 views, an employee of the mug brand Grump (@grumpmugs) created a mock scenario in which a boss asks why the user’s camera is not on.

“Why don’t you ever turn your camera on?” asks the text overlaying the video.

The video then cuts to a woman slouched in a chair and looking generally displeased.

@grumpmugs Nothing else needs to be said. #zoommeeting #offcamera #wfh #remote #meetings #corporate #grump #mugs ♬ original sound – Jessica Nicole

Career experts have offered a variety of advice on whether an employee should keep their camera on or off.

While one would hope that it would simply be up to the personal preference of the employee, experts say that keeping one’s camera off may lead the employer to believe that the employee is not engaging in the work, and thus, they may lose credit for their work.

“If others have their cameras on and you don’t, you become ‘invisible’ and often won’t be remembered as having been in the meeting,” Dallas-based career coach and author Melinda Marcus told SHRM. “Even if you spoke up, later your ideas will likely be attributed to other participants who were seen on screen.”

Furthermore, some polling indicates that employers don’t view camera-less employees in the highest regard.

According to a 2022 survey from web company Vyopta, “92% of U.S. executives report employees who are less engaged, either frequently on mute or don’t turn on their camera during virtual meetings, probably don’t have a long-term future at their company.”

On the other side, many employees say leaving their cameras on can cause distractions, making their work worse.

“In interviews with CNN Business, several workers described how leaving the camera on in meetings made it harder to focus on their work, sparked feelings of frustration about having to stay in one place for long periods of time, and created some discomfort about broadcasting their living situations to others,” writes Samantha Murphy Kelly for CNN.

This can lead to other issues; namely, women can be expected to appear more ‘work-ready’ than other employees.

“Women tend to have higher self-presentation costs than men and are likely to feel heightened pressure to demonstrate competence by appearing extra vigilant on camera,” Allison Gabriel, a professor at the University of Arizona, told CNN.

“Additionally, as women took on disproportionate childcare demands compared to men during the pandemic, they are more likely to have kids in the background, which could unfortunately call into question their ability to be committed to their work and their ability to focus,” Gabriel continued. “We also tend to hold women to higher standards for physical appearance. Being on camera can exacerbate all of these things.”

briefcase

On TikTok, users shared their own thoughts on the issue.

“No one at work needs to see me playing my steam deck during a meeting that I dont care about,” one user wrote.

“They don’t understand we’re doing them a favor by keeping that camera off,” another added.

“That’s why i dont video call for personal reasons or at work,” a third offered. “I refuse to waste my make up like that.”

The Daily Dot reached out to @grumpmugs via website contact form.

 
The Daily Dot