Video calls, best practice

First published in 2020

Today we aim to settle a very important issue which we’ve all been challenged by over the past 6 months, video during conference calls: yes or no?

The arguments for

  • 55% of all human communication is through body language(1). Having your camera on mimics as much as possible the experience of an in-person meeting and reduces the chances of miscommunication
  • When sitting at your desk for meetings, the temptation to get on with other tasks during a call can sometimes be too great. Having your camera on minimise this temptation and let’s the presenter know you have their full attention
  • For team members with Hearing Loss, video can be a useful tool to enable them to interpret the message being conveyed, particularly if there is poor audio connection
  • There can also be significant benefits of ‘putting a face to a name’. It can help with memory recall, increase motivation(2), and help new joiners to a company feel part of a community

The arguments against

  • Zoom fatigue is the newly coined term being used to describe the tiredness, anxiety, or worry resulting from overusing virtual platforms(3). Psychologists are still debating the exact cause of the fatigue, having cited the audio delay, inability to maintain eye contact or unnatural proximity to peoples’ faces as possible explanations
  • Then there is the increased anxiety that comes with letting your work colleagues into your home. Very few are fortunate enough to have a dedicated home-office to contain their professional space, and many young people have no other option than working from their bedrooms. In addition, juggling a home full of housemates, children, pets can create large amounts of stress
  • One of the solutions cited for this is the use of a virtual background, however this can cause serious issues for colleagues with disabilities. Those with cognitive processing and hyper- or hypo- sensitivity to sensory inputs may find the unnatural appearance of these backgrounds irritating or painful
  • Furthermore the difference in audio volume, lighting and background distractions across multiple participants can have a significant impact on those with disabilities(4)
  • Given the already challenging nature of remote working it may be beneficial to allow individuals to focus on other tasks during a meeting, such as the processing of information or taking notes, to ensure the time of the call is as productive as possible

The result

  • Before setting up a video conference, consider whether this is the best method of communication – sometime a simple telephone call will allow the same conversation without some of the draining impacts
  • In calendar invites and at the start of each video call, outline the expectations in relation to camera use. We recommend that having your camera on should always be optional for all attendees
  • Make sure you have understood the adjustments required by your team in relation to video calls. Examples may relate to using video, virtual backgrounds, use of the chat function, taking notes and implementing procedures around the start and end of calls
  • Make sure calls start and end on time to avoid causing unnecessary anxiety
  • Allow people to stand or move around during video calls; this can help release energy and allow people to focus on the content of conversation



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