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To think British people could bother to turn on video during introductions?

(208 Posts)
GinDaddyRedux Fri 03-Jul-20 12:15:34

So I've joined a new department. It's based in the UK, but we work across geographies - Asia, parts of west Africa, and Europe.

We had a core team introduction video call on Tuesday. Everyone at the moment is working from home due to COVID-19.

For information, I'm relatively senior, but the incumbent manager was hosting the call. It was specifically labelled on Teams as "Video introduction with XXXXYY team" etc.

We go on the call, 15 people, and those from Asia and Africa and Europe? All had their video on, all very friendly and positive.

The Brits? I couldn't actually believe it, but aside from the manager who was excellent, not one person had their camera on. Just a black screen with their initials.

Now this is not the first time I've experienced this. At a previous department, it was the same sort of culture. Some folk especially from IT or HR were happy to have the camera on, but anyone from the project teams? Oh no, not us...never ever on.

I think that's fine if you're sharing slides, or you know the people, but this is team building in the time of COVID. Surely it's not unreasonable to expect that when the only tool for connecting is video, then someone could be bothered to quickly say "hello" and smile at folk to make them welcome?

It was also notable how the people with black screens/letters, barely spoke. The critical in me was thinking whether they come on the call, mute their mic, then wander around doing other tasks. Yes video calls can be too numerous and lengthy, but it's such a poor way to make a first impression.

AIBU here? I remember seeing a topic on this last year on here and being roundly told to "keep my nosey (sic) beak out of my house", as if I want to see into someone's furniture and upholstery choices!! Nope couldn't care less about your house, I just actually want to interact with my team!

OP’s posts: |
Grilledaubergines Fri 03-Jul-20 12:19:21

You’re correct OP. Absolutely NO “Brits” ever have their videos on. Not one of us.

sirfredfredgeorge Fri 03-Jul-20 12:19:26

YABU, people are right to have their own choice to share their video, you have no right to demand or expect. If the norm for that group is no video, then it's unlikely they'll change it for you.

heartsonacake Fri 03-Jul-20 12:22:42

YABU. There’s no need for anyone to have their video on regardless of nationality.

Not having video on does not make someone rude or unfriendly, and it really is unnecessary.

Throckmorton Fri 03-Jul-20 12:22:57

Some people do, some don't. It's hardly a "British" thing

woodhill Fri 03-Jul-20 12:23:11

I don't have mine on usually, too intrusive unless it is a colleague I know well and 1-1 situation

TreestumpsAndTrampolines Fri 03-Jul-20 12:26:56

I've been working remotely, with distributed, remote teams from all the continents for years, across various companies.

Almost no-one puts their video on. Not least because at least one person on the call will be on a dodgy connection and video will grind them to a halt.

And, in the best meetings, everyone immediately goes on mute.

Sounds like the Brits are just used to online meetings to me, and are cutting straight to the chase without all the small-talk mucking about to me.

iklboo Fri 03-Jul-20 12:27:22

Definitely. Not one of us 67 million or so Brits ever use video. ''Tis the very devilry and your soul will get sucked into the webcam.

RunningAwayFund Fri 03-Jul-20 12:29:09

It was also notable how the people with black screens/letters, barely spoke. The critical in me was thinking whether they come on the call, mute their mic, then wander around doing other tasks.

My friend told us she was doing this the other day while we chatting in a (personal) group WhatsApp. She'd muted her mic and was cooking. I think it's pretty rude and unprofessional.

Stuckforthefourthtime Fri 03-Jul-20 12:30:04

That's a company culture issue. We are in the UK and all have video, all the time, but we work a lot with people overseas. I think some people who are used to working in one geography are more insular / less used to having to build relationships remotely and don't realise the importance.

I would never force someone to use video, but given that none of us are bothered by un-fancy houses or no makeup, if someone has it off all the time I'd assume they have children there / a filthy house or more likely (and this is why we have a culture of video on) are trying to multitask the call and are wasting everyone's time a bit.

ShellsAndSunrises Fri 03-Jul-20 12:30:12

Did you ask anyone to turn their camera on so you could say hi and see them?

It’s not a “British” thing. It might be the current culture in the British part of your team, and they’ll probably continue as they always have done unless you prompt them to change it. You had a good opportunity to do that...

Pelleas Fri 03-Jul-20 12:31:15

If your broadband isn't great, switching on the video will cause glitch after glitch.

We are too obsessed with what people look like as it is. Why not judge your employees on the work they do, rather than their appearance?

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Fri 03-Jul-20 12:31:52

YANBU if they're doing it deliberately, but I've found things like Teams and Zoom very capricious when it comes to video. Sometimes it works both ways, sometimes only I can see them, sometimes only they can see me, sometimes nobody sees anybody. I've even tried with different laptops and devices, but that rarely makes any of difference.

Also, broadband connections can vary in their stability, plus everybody being visible at the same time can cause it to crash through bandwidth overload. It has occurred to me that we were one of the first nations to install our internet infrastructure, so those countries who were a bit later to the table were able to learn from others' earlier mistakes, benefit from newer and improved technology and take their time and, as a result, are far ahead of us now. It's much easier to do things from scratch than to try to patch up and retrofit inferior systems.

All that said, I do agree with you, though: if video is available, it's polite to have it active, especially during introductions. Maybe it is a British thing partly. I laugh when people object to them 'seeing all inside my house' - it's not like you have to give them a guided tour of the clutter in your spare room, kids' toy-strewn bedroom or your huge laundry pile, just find somewhere with a plain wall (or even better, a bookcase with all of the low-brow titles removed from it!) and put a chair in front of it.

MilleniumHallsWalledGarden Fri 03-Jul-20 12:32:48

'Nosey' is a perfectly acceptable variant spelling, no need for the (sic) as though it's wrong. It's in the OED and everything.

CrispsForTea Fri 03-Jul-20 12:33:15

YABU. Not everyone's bandwidth supports video conferencing, particularly if their partner is also wfh. Youre probably right about them getting on with other stuff while they're on the call though...

araiwa Fri 03-Jul-20 12:33:41

Its poor form if its a getting to know the team meeting

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Fri 03-Jul-20 12:33:55

I x-posted somewhat there - there was only the OP visible when I started, but I rambled a bit!

makingmiracles Fri 03-Jul-20 12:34:47

Meh, I’ve had lots of webinars and teams meetings during lockdown and 99% of us do not use the camera, most enter the meeting with it turned on then turn it off after joining, personally I prefer it like that, other people on cam whilst concentrating on the instructor is very distracting.
However if the host is not using their camera and is also not presenting anything, yes I would find that abit off.

Hingeandbracket Fri 03-Jul-20 12:35:24

I remember your previous contributions moaning about Brits on video calls. You appear weirdly hung up on this and quite racist.

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Fri 03-Jul-20 12:38:56

Youre probably right about them getting on with other stuff while they're on the call though...

I find it a bit conflicting, because you obviously need to pay attention to the proceedings and listen properly to what others are saying, BUT one silver lining of lockdown means that you can multitask and take the opportunity to do other no-brain things that you otherwise obviously couldn't if you weren't at home - put the oven on, fold your laundry etc. Also, a lot of parents now find themselves having to contend with looking after children whilst working and even just sharing a house with other adults doing different things in their pants.

WorraLiberty Fri 03-Jul-20 12:39:28


I'm too busy eating fish and chips and drinking cups of tea from my bone china collection, before delicately nibbling on scones with jam and cream.

IslandbreezeNZ Fri 03-Jul-20 12:39:28

In Britain many kids are still not in school yet. I don't turn mine on much because I can't get to a hairdresser, have a kid at home and actually work wise I am really busy and have to multitask to get through my day before I need to switch my attention to my child. I am uk based but was not born nor grew up here.

cologne4711 Fri 03-Jul-20 12:42:53

It's not a British thing. Plenty of people have video on and plenty have video off. There's a whole long thread about this from just before lockdown,

But interestingly, Which magazine (a consumer association if you don't know it OP) had an article about video applications this month and said that Zoom wasn't great, particularly for video stability. They rated MS Teams though.

PatricksRum Fri 03-Jul-20 12:46:28


I remember your previous contributions moaning about Brits on video calls. You appear weirdly hung up on this and quite racist.

Racist towards a nation of people of varying races?

Um okay.

However YABU op
I hate swiching my camera on due to anxiety.

4amWitchingHour Fri 03-Jul-20 12:47:38

I think it's really rude to not turn your camera on video calls unless you know the person really well - seeing a face is so much part of building a relationship, and I don't understand a lot of people's hang ups about being on camera. It is no different to meeting someone and them seeing your face in real life.

Re seeing inside your home - 1. No one cares, 2. Put on a background.

I think it either comes from insecurity - people thinking that everyone is paying them much more attention than is actually the case, or wanting to keep a distance, which is a bit of a British thing and is pretty crap for relationship building. (Yes, I'm British)

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