Web meetings are increasing significantly in times of Corona. No wonder that the share of the video telephony provider Zoom has risen by 110% since Corona. In one study, scientists examined numerous employees and noticed the following changes since Corona:

  • The number of emails increases by a factor of 1.4
  • Working days are 48 minutes longer
  • Number of meetings increases by 12.9%
  • Number of participants in meetings increases by 13.5%

The market share of video solutions is currently divided between three major players:

  • Microsoft Teams (30%)
  • Zoom (26%)
  • Cisco (23%)
corona webcam on off
Zoom share price 2020 – 2021

The working days are also supposedly more cumbersome for employees according to their own information. According to a Berlin study 12% have already fallen asleep during a web meeting. In addition, 61 percent of the more than 1000 respondents questioned answer private emails parallel to the digital meeting.

Webcam on or off? Science says: on!

A big topic at meetings is the webcam. Should the webcam be on or off during the meeting? Several B2B influencers and influential managers shouted that the camera should always be on during meetings. There was a real discussion, especially on LinkedIn and Clubhouse.

The question remains: what does science say about it? I looked at Google about this. Various studies show that communication takes place through eye contact, facial expressions and gestures. I notice that in business too. Glances can be played with – managers can effectively underline their position when the camera is in a lower position. So it seems to have an effect turning the camera on.

The Fraunhofer Institute has examined a large number of video meetings for this purpose. The participants should solve test tasks in groups with and without a camera. The results are ( Source Fraunhofer )

  • Engagement / involvement of the participants: 70.2% of the participants reported that the use of video conferencing technology resulted in a higher level of motivation and more engagement in the team discussion, since every participant had the same document in front of them and, in contrast to telephone conferences and e-mails, you could see each other could.
  • Openness of the discussion: 59.6% of the participants said that the visualization of the discussion object and the visibility of all participants allow a more open discussion (also because you can see who wants to speak).
  • Working atmosphere: 73.9% of the participants said that the direct and personal communication made possible by video technology led to a more positive (and therefore more relaxed) working atmosphere. 91.5% of the participants stated that a positive and relaxed working atmosphere is important for them when carrying out complex team tasks.
  • Mutual decision: 81% of the test subjects found that tasks were only divided up over the phone and e-mail, but not solved together. A solution was found together with the integrated platform.

My own webcam study: Only important meetings with a camera

The majority of the studies on webcams at meetings recommend using the webcam. I myself also conducted a survey with 30 people around me. My results are that almost everyone told me that the webcam was bothersome. The test persons feel observed and are often not very prepared for a spontaneous webcam meeting. The participants are also bothered by the fact that they cannot walk with video during a meeting, for example on the balcony or in the apartment. So you have the necessary movement during the day. With video you are so tied to the screen.

The majority of my interviewees were of the same opinion in conclusion: limit video to important meetings and announce it one day in advance. 1: 1 conversations with video are also very welcome.

Videos and the environment

By the way: According to one Study from Purdue University, Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one hour of video telephony emits up to 1000 grams of carbon dioxide and consumes two to 12 liters of water – this is roughly comparable to the consumption of 3 liters of gasoline. A car consumes an average of approx. 7.8L / 100KM – this is equivalent to a drive of approx. 39 KM. In comparison, there are also 96% more emissions than with an hour of telephony without video.

Conclusion

Video meetings are numerous and very important. This is also proven by science. But where is the person? I conducted a private survey on this. The opinion was clear: limit video to important meetings and make a brief announcement. On the one hand, this would improve employee satisfaction and protect the environment. What do you say? How do you feel about using video in meetings?

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Dr. Dominic Lindner
Author

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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