Survey: People hate remote meetings- Here’s Why (Hint: It’s the cameras)

By Kathy Morris
Apr. 9, 2021

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Quick Facts

Meetings are the worst.

While they can be a productive way to move forward projects and company goals, many meetings are far from effective and leave workers wondering, “Could this have been an email?”

Virtual meetings have added a whole host of new ways meetings can be awful. Between tech issues, having to stare at your own face on a screen, and learning way too much about your coworkers’ home lives, virtual meetings can be pretty unpleasant.

To better understand workers’ feelings on virtual meetings, Zippia surveyed just under 2,000 workers.

Keep reading to find out what workers hate so much about Zoom meetings (Warning: the list is long), and how cameras change attendees’ behaviors.

Other findings

  • Only 1-in-5 workers always turn their cameras on during virtual meetings.
  • Considering workers are twice as likely to prefer virtual meetings without cameras that number is surprisingly low and likely a result of company policies rather than personal desires.
  • After being on camera, workers most dislike disruptions from family/pets/roommates and technical difficulties.
  • Coworkers can increase the frustrations: Over 20% of workers are frustrated by unengaged coworkers and coworkers’ with technical difficulties.
  • Other workers are feel unengaged and struggle to avoid distractions during virtual meetings.
  • 92% of workers at least “somewhat” tidy or prepare their workspace for virtual meetings.
  • A bolder 8% just turn the camera on indifferently.
  • The vast majority of workers are fully dressed for virtual meetings regardless of camera status. However, 10% more will always be fully dressed when their camera is on.
  • A small (but still surprising) 1% of workers admitted to attending a virtual, cameras on meeting shirtless.
  • 73% of workers spend more time on grooming (hair, makeup, etc) in preparation for a meeting with cams on.

What do people dislike about virtual meetings?

While being on camera is a common grievance and frustration for 48% during virtual meetings, it is far from the only issue.

Many workers are struggling to stay focused during Zoom meetings. The second most common annoyance is household disruptions. While tech issues still remain a prevalent concern and social media can be a tempting distraction, they don’t override the annoyance of your child demanding juice or your dog barking loudly in the background.

It is important to note that many workers unexpectedly began working remotely, and lacked the appropriate space and available childcare to create their most effective work environment. It is possible workers’ feelings towards virtual meetings are colored by this reality.

Many workers also reported frustrations with unengaged coworkers, or their coworkers technical difficulties

Other common virtual meeting grievances

  • Feels performative
  • Tiring
  • Lack of body language/eye contact
  • Less effective communication
  • Boring

In general, while many have adapted quite handily to virtual meetings, there seems to still be a strong desire for face to face contact.

Do workers dress differently in virtual meetings when the camera is on versus when it’s off?

Unsurprisingly, workers are 10% more likely to be fully dressed during virtual meetings when they will be appearing on camera. However, regardless of camera status, the vast majority of all workers show up to meetings fully dressed and ready for work.

There is a small but glaring number of workers who feel comfortable being shirtless in a meeting or even completely undressed. While only about 1% admit to doing this on camera, we can’t say it’s a great look or good career move.

Overall, most workers do exert the energy to appear clothed and professional on camera. Similarly, 73% of workers spend more time on grooming (hair, makeup, etc) in preparation for a meeting with cameras on.

Methodology, a career resource website, conducted a study of 1,927 work from home workers across the U.S. on virtual meetings.

Each respondent was asked an identical series of questions about their feelings towards meetings and their behavior during them, particularly as it relates to appearance.

Respondents were recruited through Clickworker during the month of March 2021.

Can we all agree to make meetings better?

At the end of the day, the vast majority of workers still prefer face-to-face meetings.

However, face-to-face meetings are not always an option for remote workers or distributed workforces. Yet a range of alternative including phone calls and virtual meetings with no cameras are still available.

Cameras can help improve communication by allowing meeting attendees to see body language. However, a surprising amount of workers surveyed are uncomfortable appearing on camera and is the most common dislike about virtual meetings.

Companies shouldn’t toss their web cams in the bin yet, they might want to ponder the question, “Are cameras necessary for every meeting?”

A large company-wide meeting may not be the appropriate time for every worker to have their web camera on. On the opposite end, a 1-on-1 with your manager might truly benefit from some actually face time.

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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Topics: Study