Can I Require Employees To Turn On Their Cameras During Meetings?

Many people are camera shy in today’s society.

The fear of being judged for what they say or do causes them to clam up when speaking with others, which can lead companies to losing potential clients because nobody ever knows if the input was good enough due lack communication from those on-cam. The same can be said for the engagement of employees on the other side of the screen.

With the adoption of remote work, many employers found comfort in virtual meetings, to keep track and check in with their employees, despite the distance. Organizations have blocked off workers’ schedules for these meetings so they can somehow mimic the on-site work experience and gain meaningful interactions with and among their teams. In fact, a study reveals that knowledge workers now spend eight hours more of their time per week on meetings.

On-cam Meetings

Establishing trust

No relationship can thrive in anonymity.

The importance of on- camera meetings cannot be overstated. If you are a business leader or manager, it’s critical that your performance during these sessions speaks volumes for how others perceive and interact with the company as whole – this will give them confidence in everything from product quality to customer satisfaction!

Ever wonder why your ID is necessary for every documentation and application? Why the U.S. Customs and Border Protection now uses facial recognition technology for identity checks at some border locations?

Your face is your best proof of identity. Putting yourself or your face out there is necessary in establishing trust, as it enables others to validate who you are and the representations you make. To put it simply, meeting facilitators won’t have to worry if you’re actively listening and participating or doing something else.

In the world of business, one word can mean everything-and that’s trust. On-camera meetings are an essential part in building this powerful relationship between manager/leader and their team members by removing any form or mannerism from hiding what you’re truly feeling when it comes to work obligations; whether excited about something great happening over there because I know how much effort went into bringing these results home (or not), stressed out due all kinds pressures coming our way right now…it doesn’t matter! The most important thing at hand here? Making sure everyone knows where we stand together as equals.

Social cues

Social cues, even your co-worker’s eye roll or your boss’ quiet sighs, are important in determining how meetings will pan out. The ability to read the room will enable you to make impromptu changes in the direction of the meeting, take note of your proposal or presentation’s areas for improvement, and predict how people will respond to any topic, even before you ask them for their thoughts.

These are all possible in face-to-face meetings, but in virtual meetings, there’s always this thin veil that blocks off any accurate sense of the atmosphere, and such barrier is further fortified by attendees’ off-cam participation.



In a poll, 92% of the executives surveyed don’t see a long-term future for employees who don’t turn their cameras on.

Most of the time, employees who do not show their faces during meetings are perceived as rude and arrogant, especially when higher-ups have their cameras on.

Moreover, their participation can be questionable, particularly when they didn’t speak the entire time

Employees Turning Cameras on During Meetings

On the other end, some employees are stressed over the idea of having to turn their cameras on in every meeting.

One research study affirmed the correlation of using the camera to employees’ daily feelings of fatigue. Despite employers’ popular belief that workers are more engaged when their cameras are turned on, the study revealed that the fatigue is wearing down their drive to engage.

This is often attributed to stress induced by social pressures like having to look their best, having to stay put during the meeting, and the idea of having other people looking at and judging their living conditions.

The study further showed that women and new hires are more prone to “Zoom fatigue.” Specifically, female workers are expected to look presentable at all times versus men (grooming gap), and their perceived commitment to work is more likely affected by family-related interruptions. Meanwhile, newer employees feel the pressure to prove their worth to the organization.

Bridging the Gap

Bridging these two perspectives, is crucial if you want to make the relationship, between you and your remote employees, to work. Although you can require them to have their webcam on during meetings, you may want to take steps to ensure that it won’t, in any way, affect employees’ productivity and mental health, and take into account their different levels of comfortability.

Consider which of your team members identify as extroverts and introverts. This very well can play into account whether or not they are comfortable on camera. For all you know, they are constantly judging themselves on the other end of that camera and what they’re picking apart, you have yet to notice. Another example of something that can be put forth for the team is that if you have a camera-filled week of meetings, schedule blocks of time that allow for you to take breaks or refresh your mind. This helps to alleviate any added pressure that one may feel for always “bringing their A game” and allowing for them to find some solace in the off-camera time.

Conduct a pulse survey.

Get a feel of what your employees feel about on-cam meetings. Identify different types of meetings or instances, and ask how comfortable they are to turn their camera on in each of the situations provided.

Create and cascade guidelines on video conferencing etiquette to your employees.

Put it to paper and send out the policy and guidelines to your employees. You can include the expectation that employees will participate in meetings using their webcams unless there are extenuating circumstances. Supervisors can then handle, on a case-by-case basis, any issues with employees not using the webcam.

Leave a wiggle room in your policy for acceptable circumstances.

Take things like low internet bandwidth, equipment failure, software incompatibility, mental health, environmental circumstances, privacy issues, and other reasonable concerns into account when setting expectations. For example, employees may have difficulty staying connected if multiple people in their household are using video conferencing apps at the same time.

Define when cameras are needed and when they’re not.

Not every meeting needs to be on camera. Here are a few instances in which you can allow employees to turn their cameras off during virtual meets.

  1. In an orientation with numerous participants who will, for most of the meeting, only listen to the presentation.
  2. In meetings where it’s not critical to see each other’s faces.
  3. In any instance, where the employee believes it better to turn off his or her camera like when turning it on would distract the other videoconference participants, when he or she is not feeling well, when there is poor internet connection.

Improve how you conduct meetings.

The key to cultivating engagement is to conduct effective meetings that are brief or broken apart in segments, set clear objectives, encourage participation, and more.

By improving how you lead videoconferences, you can ensure your remote workers’ active participation without the need to require them to turn on their cameras. Aside from this, giving them the autonomy to decide how they want to show up will make them feel trusted and respected.

Although remote workers have, in a sense, broken the barrier between work and personal space, there still has to be some boundaries left.

Treading in the middle is more challenging than going all out. Talk to our people and culture experts today for policies, plans, and workforce solutions that balance your interest and that of your employees.

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