Here’s some free remote work career advice: turn your camera on for calls, almost always. Even if nobody else has theirs on. Even if you feel like everyone’s watching you and that makes you uncomfortable. Even if you don’t plan on saying anything. Just do it.
It’s a powerful tool for jelling as a team. Being able to see the faces of the people you’re working with does wonders for building relationships and psychological safety. You feel like you really know your coworkers if you hear AND see them on a regular basis, instead of them just being voices on the other end of a call or messages in Slack.
It’s also like a cheat code for showing people that you’re engaged and not multitasking. When you’re being quiet and your camera is off, people wonder if you’re paying attention. When you’re being quiet and your camera is on, people can see you nodding as they speak, looking confused when they are trying to make a complex point, smiling at their jokes, all that. They know that you’re there and you’re with them and you’re fully involved in the discussion.
Keeping your camera off can literally be a career limiting move because of that. It can be the difference between management thinking you’re engaged and thinking you’re checked out.
Oh, your company has a culture of going camera off, so you can’t be the weird one? Then it’s your responsibility to bring it up for discussion. A sprint retro would be a great opportunity to suggest an experiment where you all turn cameras on for standup calls that sprint, and see how people like it. Baby steps, right?
Anything is better than just accepting that you’ll never see the faces of the people you work with, and they’ll never see yours.