Why We Don’t Use Video On Our Meeting Calls

From the NY Times article Why Zoom is Terrible:

The problem is that the way the video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, patched and synthesized introduces all kinds of artifacts: blocking, freezing, blurring, jerkiness and out-of-sync audio. These disruptions, some below our conscious awareness, confound perception and scramble subtle social cues. Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why.

In the race to make work from home as “normal” as work from the office, everyone jumped on video calls. Lots and lots of video calls. Anyone who has done more than a few of these likely has started to hate them. They are choppy, exhausting, and someone always has a bad connection. For a sales call or first introduction they’re great. Otherwise, I say skip the video and stick with audio + screen sharing. The specific software doesn’t matter – Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc all seem to be just fine.

My partners and I have been holding our weekly meetings this way for a few years now. We used to meet in person each Wednesday. Once children happened, we started doing every few weeks in person, with Skype calls on the other weeks. And now without a conference room, and with prolonged exposure indoors to people outside of your household looking like an increasingly bad idea, we have no plans to meet in person for the foreseeable future. So, Skype it is, each and every Wednesday for us.

With an audio call you don’t need to worry about how you look, or the lighting in your room. It cuts out less frequently. It allows you to spend time looking at notes, taking a sip of water, or pacing around the room (as I often do) without worrying about how you look on camera. And when you need to discuss something visual like you would in person, you can share your screen or all open the same shared file. We’re typically on our call for 2-4 hours. That would be excessively exhausting on a video call. We figured this out pretty early on. I’m hoping that a lot of other companies will soon do the same.