Brad Lucas

Programming, Clojure and other interests
November 28, 2023

The Importance of the Camera in Managing Remote Teams: Tips for Success

Managers looking for ways to increase camera-on participation should think carefully before acting. They may default to mandating participation and be discouraged by the results. Rather than forcing compliance, managers should think of ways to create an environment where participation increases naturally because team members want to be on camera rather than because they have to.

To do so, think first about why someone might not want to be on camera. In many cases, consider that they are simply not comfortable. The specific why may be personal, and it may not be appropriate for you to ask directly. Consider focusing on creating a safe environment, and in many cases, associates will become more comfortable on their own and start showing up on camera.

First, I found it important to set an example. If you are leading a team, then always be on camera. You can't expect others to do something you aren't willing to do. Also, you'll notice that some will naturally follow your example. I've spoken to associates from other teams who stay off camera simply because others are off camera. Lead by example to start things off.

Next, start by talking to associates one-on-one and asking how they feel about being on camera. Ask them if they'd at least go on camera while talking with you. Listen to what they have to say. See if you can figure out where the hesitancy is. Don't criticize or call out their reasons. Just try to make sure they feel heard. When appropriate, tell them why you think it's important for them to be on camera for team meetings and when meeting with their peers in small groups. Encourage this level of participation first.

To help with team-level participation, make sure at some point to talk to the group and reiterate why you think a camera-on culture for the team is a good idea. Don't make it a rule, but a suggestion. Then, see how things go.

If, after a period of time, you still have some who won't go on camera, just make a note of it. During one of your one-on-ones with them, ask them about it. Again, it's important to listen. You shouldn't mandate it. Just encourage it and let it go.

I've found that over time, most, if not all, of the team will be on camera. Sometimes there are some who aren't, and if asked, you'll find they are eating, don't feel well, or have some other reason, which isn't that they don't want to. It just doesn't feel right at that moment, and that's OK. You won't get total compliance all the time, but you will have an environment where associates are joining in on their own accord. And that's good.

Tags: management remote leadership