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Young employees aren't embracing video conferencing any more than older colleagues

Anyone who thought the COVID-19 pandemic might end "meetingitis" quickly discovered they were mistaken

Published: Nov 4, 2023 05:12:42 AM IST
Updated: Nov 4, 2023 06:13:43 AM IST

Young employees aren't embracing video conferencing any more than older colleaguesWhether or not to use a camera during an online meeting is the subject of much tension in the workplace. Image: Shutterstock

With the widespread rollout of remote and hybrid work, online meetings have become part of the daily routine for many employees. But not all employees perceive these virtual meetings in the same way. According to a recent survey, young people in particular have issues with this practice.

Anyone who thought that the Covid-19 pandemic might put an end to "meetingitis" quickly found out they were mistaken. From Zoom to Meet to Skype, companies have a wide range of tools at their disposal to enable their employees to meet "face-to-face." But not everyone appreciates meeting up with colleagues via screens, as the 2023 edition of Jabra's annual report* confirms.

Members of younger generations feel less comfortable than their older colleagues at the idea of participating in a videoconference. This may seem counterintuitive, since their age is often associated with a "natural" predisposition for new technologies. But whether it takes place remotely or not, a good meeting depends on the quality of exchanges between employees. And in order to facilitate the expression of opinions, including those of new recruits or inexperienced employees, climate of psychological safety needs to be established. Yet Millennials and Generation Z often feel that their contributions are not taken as seriously as those of their older colleagues. As a result, they feel more excluded during video meetings than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

The survey also shows that whether or not cameras are used during a videoconference can be the source of issues and even controversy in the workplace. Some managers strongly encourage their teams to use the camera to facilitate visual communication and combat the dehumanization of working relationships, while others are happy to do without. While several employees see no harm in participating in such a face-to-face meeting, younger employees are more reluctant to do so. Worse still, they say they feel pressure from their superiors to turn their camera on.

Also read: How pointless meetings can harm well-being at work

Camera on or off?

Millennials are particularly sensitive to such pressures, since 24% of them feel obliged to turn on their camera when participating in a remote meeting. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers are less influenced by such pressure than their younger counterparts: 47% of them never have the camera on themselves during a videoconference, compared with just 22% of Gen Zers. But a small proportion of Baby Boomers (15%) say they are prepared to turn on their camera if they need to actively participate in a meeting.

Controversial though it may be, the use of a camera during a remote meeting is greatly appreciated by employees. While some may not like to turn theirs on, employees are very positive about those who do. For example, 46% of those surveyed think that colleagues with video on seem more engaged/involved in the meeting than those who have their video off. What's more, 39% of respondents said that filming themselves during a videoconference gives an impression of competence and professionalism.

To support their teams in an increasingly video-oriented world of work, companies are setting up dedicated meeting rooms. But a large proportion of employees surveyed are reluctant to take advantage of these dedicated spaces. Some 30% say they are reluctant to take part in meetings in an equipped room, because they are less comfortable in this configuration than with their own laptop.

*This report was conducted by Toluna, on behalf of Jabra, among 1,845 "knowledge workers" living in the USA, UK, France, Japan, Germany and Poland. Data was collected online between April 13 and 21, 2023.

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