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Question: Our company moved to fully remote earlier this year. Most of my employees are happy about this arrangement, but many of them are starting to push back against the mandate of having webcams on. They’re complaining of Zoom fatigue and the feeling of being micro-managed. Can you share some advice on how organizations are adapting to the camera requirement for remote meetings?

zoomFatigue1400Answer: When the pandemic began, being able to see the faces of your colleagues through webcams was a welcome technological bridge. We used our cameras to help us get through what we thought was going to be a brief pause before reconnecting in person. Two and a half years in, however, appearing on screen for every remote meeting has led not only to Zoom fatigue, but is re-igniting pre-pandemic micro-management issues like presenteeism.

Fortunately, remote meeting etiquette is shifting. Some organizations have already made cameras optional. Research is showing that introverts, employees who are also balancing childcare while working from home, and new employees experience higher levels of stress than their peers.

Like many managerial decisions you will have to make in your career, the trick is to strike the right balance. We’re at an inflection point in dealing with the post-pandemic impact on our workplace. Now is the time to let people craft practices that work for them instead of against them.

You might agree on a plan to be on camera three days a week and off two. Your camera on policy may apply to the type of meeting you’re having. You may allow people to turn their cameras off in meetings of 5 or more people when they’re not presenting, if they’re just not feeling well, or if they’re calling in from outside of their normal workplace.

What’s right for your employees is what’s right for your employees. Engage them in coming up with a plan that will enable everyone to be as productive as possible as a hybrid team. Keep dialing it in as you test new ways of working together until you come up with the right blend.

If you can move away from mandates and toward including your team in building something together, they’ll be more likely to appreciate one another’s preferences and build a stronger team in the process.

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