I know it is 2023 but I need some Zoom etiquette advice. Recently, someone basically bullied me into going camera on during a call. Is this appropriate? Does a person need to be camera-on? Also, is it rude to join a Zoom camera on when everyone else is camera-off? What are the rules? When will this end?
Dear Camera Off,
Welcome to 2023, where everything is still a little up in the air.
First, I think the answer to your last question is: Never.
Video calls and meetings are a fact of life now and that means we have to accept it and probably, yes, figure out a few ground rules. But what are those ground rules? See sentence one.
OK, that’s too vague. I do think there are some rules we can agree on, starting with the number one rule, the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
That means bullying someone to go camera-on or camera-off or bullying someone for any reason at all ever, on or off Zoom, is totally inappropriate. Don’t do that. If someone is camera-off and you’d like them to be camera-on, you are allowed to ask and they are allowed to say, “I’m sorry, my [room, face, hair, life] is a mess and I am not camera-ready right now.”
If you are a boss or even an organizer of a meeting and you want people to be camera-on, set that expectation ahead of time. Be clear, either as a company-wide policy – “We are always camera-on in meetings unless you need to go to the bathroom or refill your coffee.” – or in the meeting invite – “I’d like everyone to come on camera when they present their findings.”
If you want people camera-on during meetings, be prepared for weird expressions and wandering eyes as people do their work or scroll Instagram, though.
As for should you join a meeting camera-on? Up to you. I personally like the connection of seeing people’s faces on the screen, but I acknowledge I am in the minority here. Still, I don’t think it is inherently bad or anything to go camera-on when everyone else is off. But it is a little like standing naked in a room where everyone else is wearing turtlenecks.
There is one place I think there is a set rule: In a one-on-one meeting, the default should always be camera on. If you don’t want to do a one-on-one with a camera involved, suggest a simple, old-fashioned phone call. Otherwise, get out of bed and turn that camera on.
We discussed this question on “Why Tho? The Podcast” last week! Listen below and then share and subscribe!
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