The latest office feud could be over whether or not to use the camera during virtual meetings.
For the first time in her career, a woman who works at a New York-based nonprofit received an HR complaint in August because she turned off her camera during virtual work meetings, according to CNN Business. She claimed she received another HR complaint for the same reason shortly after.
“I was on a call with about 15 employees, and [the speaker] said that everyone should have their camera on because it’s company policy and part of our culture now,” said the woman, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from the company. She has long disliked being photographed or videotaped in front of a camera, and the meetings only added to her discomfort. “I told them being on camera causes me anxiety and didn’t turn it on. I eventually got a doctor’s note.”
Despite the fact that she is still required to keep her camera on, she now sits mostly out of frame, with only her shoulder visible, according to her employer. However, she believes that this only adds to the awkwardness of the situation. She is currently on the lookout for a new position.
She isn’t the only one who is struggling to adjust to the new normal of constant video calls. Several employees told CNN Business that leaving the camera on in meetings made it difficult to focus on their work, caused frustration from having to stay in one place for long periods of time, and made them feel uncomfortable about broadcasting their living situations to others. Workers may also feel pressured to leave the camera on, whether it’s due to an explicit request from the company or the belief — debunked by a recent study — that if they don’t, they’ll be less productive and engaged.
Lydia Mack, a copywriter for brands and startups in Los Angeles, said she turns off her webcam during calls with clients and coworkers so she can focus better. However, she’s discovered that this strategy has drawbacks as well. “If it’s a team meeting and I’m the only one with my camera off for an extended period of time, it can also be a distraction [for others] and leave them wondering if I’m even at my computer, heard the conversation in its entirety, and so on.”