March 9, 2021
As employees continue to be forced home during the pandemic, nearly half of them are reporting high levels of exhaustion. A new study by Virtira Consulting claims 49 percent of employees experience a high degree of exhaustion from being required or pressured to be on camera during online meetings.
The Webcam Survey: Exhausted or Engaged? provides insights from over 1,700 managers and employees about the direct impact that company policies on the use of video during online meetings have on the well-being of employees. The survey also examines whether other factors contribute to the high incidence of reported employee exhaustion.
As businesses adapt and learn from the remote work experiment, many have implemented policies regarding remote work based on opinion rather than data, causing a negative impact on employees.
• Over 49 percent of individuals report being exhausted due to being on a webcam. With current estimates of over 25 million employees working at home and another 41 million at the office or in a flexible commuting arrangement, this means that the rate of exhaustion could exist in over 30 million people.
• 61 percent of those surveyed reported that all meetings they attend are conducted on video for all participants.
• Over 60 percent reported that the number of meetings they attend has increased significantly since the pandemic.
• Over 65 percent of responses indicate that being on video is best used for team engagement and connection; however, only 11 percent reported that the camera was used this way.
• Over 25 percent reported feeling peer pressure to put on their cameras even if it was not a requirement.
“Our research shows the impact that remote work and COVID-19 have had on how managers are meeting with their teams,” says Virtira CEO Cynthia Watson. “In my conversations with business leaders throughout the pandemic, the majority said that employees on webcams during meetings increased engagement and productivity, but our study clearly shows it can have the opposite effect.”
The survey comes at a time when remote work is increasingly a mainstay of business life around the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Especially with up to 80 percent of businesses reporting that they will move towards a fully remote or hybrid/flex model in the future, understanding what policies create effective and productive WFH and office-based employees is going to be critical moving forward – if businesses want to increase productivity and move beyond the pandemic,” Watson says.