The pros and cons of having your camera on.


In the era of remote work and virtual meetings, videoconferencing has become an indispensable tool for connecting people across the globe. However, the pervasive use of cameras during these virtual encounters brings forth an array of issues and concerns that are often overlooked. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of having cameras turned on during videoconferencing sessions, shedding light on the often overlooked downsides that can impact individuals both personally and professionally.


The Pros

Non-verbal communication

Video conferences with cameras on allow for the transmission of nonverbal cues and body language, which are important aspects of communication. Research suggests that nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and gestures, play a crucial role in conveying meaning, building rapport, and fostering understanding among participants. Having cameras on enables the detection of these nonverbal signals, enhancing communication effectiveness.

The caveat to this is that to get the benefits of non-verbal communication, you do need to be able to see the other person’s face. If you have too many participants in a meeting or are also sharing presentations or screens, the benefit is lost.


Engagement and active participation

When participants have their cameras on, it can promote a sense of accountability and encourage active engagement. Research has found that individuals are more likely to participate in discussions, contribute ideas, and stay focused when they know they are visible to others. This can lead to more productive meetings, increased collaboration, and better overall outcomes.

Accountability is a common motivator for leaders and employers to require team members have their cameras turned on, however the decision is often made without consideration for the adverse effects.


Building relationships and trust

Seeing the faces of fellow participants on video conferences helps build relationships and trust among team members. Research suggests that visual cues, including facial expressions and eye contact, contribute to the development of social connections. When people can see each other, they are more likely to feel connected, empathise with others, and establish trust, which can positively impact teamwork and collaboration.

We recommend this particularly when meeting people for the first time, and when seeking to strengthen relationships with team members over time. For example, if you do work purely remotely, try building in 1:1 check-ins using video every 3-4 meetings.


The Cons

Privacy invasion

One of the most significant concerns surrounding videoconferencing with cameras turned on is the infringement on privacy. In a world where remote work has become the norm, individuals are often forced to invite colleagues, clients, or even strangers into their personal space; their home. This intrusion compromises privacy boundaries and can make individuals feel uneasy about sharing their personal surroundings with others.

Background filters have come a long way in this respect, however unintentional introductions to children, pets, partners, and friends can all still feel like they are pushing privacy boundaries.


Visual fatigue

The constant need to be presentable and maintain a professional appearance can take a toll on individuals during videoconferencing sessions. The pressure to always look presentable adds an additional layer of stress and can lead to visual fatigue. The necessity of maintaining a certain appearance can negatively impact the mental well-being of individuals, contributing to increased anxiety and reduced productivity.

Research has further shown that visual fatigue disproportionally affects women and new employees, who in general are exposed to more societal pressure based on their appearance.



Videoconferencing sessions often take place in environments that are far from controlled, such as home offices or shared spaces. Turning on cameras can inadvertently expose distractions that can disrupt the flow of the meeting. Background noise, interruptions from family, trades and delivery services can divert attention and diminish the effectiveness of the conversation.


Technological challenges

Not everyone has access to top-notch equipment appropriate for good videoconferencing or stable internet connections. For some individuals, joining a video call with the camera turned on might be technically challenging due to hardware limitations or poor internet connectivity. This discrepancy in technical resources can create an uneven playing field, leading to potential discrimination or exclusion within professional settings. Companies that have home office benefits help to close the gap, however it is often still an added burden on an employee.


Psychological impact

Videoconferencing with cameras turned on can have a significant psychological impact on individuals. The constant visual presence and scrutiny has been shown to lead to heighten self-consciousness and self-evaluation, causing anxiety and reducing overall self-esteem. Additionally, the increased difficulty in interpreting non-verbal cues can lead to misinterpretation, misunderstandings, and ineffective communication.


Social pressure and forced visibility

For individuals who are introverted or suffer from social anxiety, being forced to turn on their cameras during videoconferencing can be an uncomfortable and distressing experience. The pressure to conform to social norms and expectations can be detrimental to their mental well-being and cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.

This can be particularly detrimental for neurodivergent individuals who may find the pressure, coupled with the multi-sensory nature of videoconferencing, highly stressful.


While videoconferencing has revolutionised remote communication, it’s important to recognise and address the negative implications of having cameras turned on during these sessions. The invasion of privacy, visual fatigue, distractions, technological challenges, psychological impact, and forced visibility are all factors that can adversely affect individuals participating in videoconferencing. It is crucial for organisations and individuals to be mindful of these drawbacks and adopt practices that prioritise well-being and inclusivity, allowing for more balanced and effective virtual communication.


Our top 5 recommendations

  1. Choice and flexibility: Recognise the impact that constant visibility can have on individuals. Allow team members to choose when to have their cameras on and off during virtual meetings. This flexibility can help mitigate feelings of privacy invasion and reduce visual fatigue.
  2. Limit videoconference time: Where possible, try to limit the length and number of videoconferences to avoid visual fatigue. Encourage alternatives such as phone calls, emails, or instant messaging for less critical communications.
  3. Invest in technology: To overcome technological challenges, organisations should invest in quality videoconferencing equipment and support employees in ensuring a stable internet connection. This not only improves the videoconferencing experience but also helps to prevent any feelings of exclusion due to poor quality connections.
  4. Be mindful of non-verbal cues: Training employees to effectively interpret non-verbal cues in a virtual environment can help to reduce misunderstandings and misinterpretations. This can enhance communication, leading to more productive meetings.
  5. Consider psychological impacts: Lastly, be aware of the psychological impacts that forced visibility can have on team members, particularly those who are introverted, socially anxious or neurodivergent. Offer support where necessary and foster an environment where individuals feel comfortable to discuss their preferences and needs.

In the end, it’s about creating a virtual environment that respects individual differences while fostering effective communication and collaboration.



  • Bala, H., & Venkatesh, V. (2020). Adaptation to collaborative technologies and its antecedents: an integrative model of Zoom use. Information Systems Research, 32(1), 8-30.
  • Wiederhold, B. K. (2020). Connecting through technology during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: avoiding “Zoom Fatigue”. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(7), 437-438.