The shift to remote work brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of professional interactions, particularly when it comes to meetings. An aspect of this that has sparked considerable debate is the use of webcams during virtual meetings. Some companies insist on employees keeping their cameras on as a replacement for in-person interaction, while others adopt a more flexible approach.

To Camera or Not to Camera: Prevalence of Webcam Use

Despite the ubiquity of webcams in today's laptops and the seemingly straightforward purpose they serve in remote meetings, their usage is not uniform. A survey conducted by Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics in 2021 found that 38% of remote workers always turn their camera on during video meetings, 26% said they sometimes do, and 36% said they rarely or never do.

It's worth noting that the preference for using a webcam is often subjective and can depend on factors such as the company's culture, the nature of the meeting, and individual comfort levels.

Trust Versus Tradition

Companies that give trust to their employees and embrace the essence of remote work often do not mandate the use of webcams. The focus here is on productivity and outcome rather than physical appearance. Teams in these companies find themselves being productive without the need to share their webcam, as they rely on other means of communication like voice, chat, and shared documents to collaborate effectively. The flexibility that comes with this approach can also enhance work-life balance and overall job satisfaction among employees.

On the other hand, some companies still abide by the age-old traditions of looking smart and giving a good impression. This is particularly true for businesses that are customer-facing, where visual interaction is believed to foster a sense of connection and trust with the client. In such instances, having the webcam turned on during meetings can be considered as a professional etiquette rather than an option.

Finding a Middle Ground

While the debate on webcam use continues, it is essential to find a middle ground. Instead of a blanket rule on camera use, companies can set guidelines based on the nature of the meeting. For instance, webcams can be turned on for client meetings, team brainstorming sessions, or one-on-ones, and turned off for regular check-ins or larger team meetings where the focus is more on the content being shared rather than the individuals.

Moreover, considering the potential discomfort or privacy concerns some employees might have with keeping their cameras on, providing an option to use virtual backgrounds or blur filters can offer a compromise between personal comfort and professional visibility.


As the world of work continues to evolve, so will the etiquette surrounding remote meetings. While webcam use is common, it is not universally practiced or required. Companies must therefore strike a balance between respecting employee comfort and privacy, and upholding professional standards and effective communication. After all, the goal of any meeting, be it virtual or physical, is to facilitate productive collaboration, and the means to achieve that can be as diverse as the workforce itself.