Three quarters of hybrid office workers in the UK (76%) admit to turning off their webcam on video calls to hide what they are doing. This figure rises up to 85% for workers under the age of 24, suggesting, in the new hybrid working world, some mischievous behaviour is taking place.

As part of its international State of Selling study, Showpad has collected a number of other statistics underlining struggles some workers have when separating personal life from professional. To name a few:

  • Sleeping, vaping and consuming alcohol were amongst things workers admit to doing off-camera.
  • One fifth said they had done something embarrassing after forgetting their camera was on, and 4% say they lost their job as a result of something that happened during a work video call.
  • Three quarters say etiquette in real life business meetings has diminished as a result of video calls.
  • 80% say they are more easily distracted in virtual meeting versus real ones.

Concentration whilst on video calls appears to particularly difficult for hybrid workers, whereby 80% say they are more easily distracted in virtual meetings compared to real-world ones. Moreover, around half (52%) of participants said they have an attention span of less than half an hour in virtual meetings.

This lack of concentration is down to a number of contributing factors including cooking and social media. However, other findings are certainly blurring the boundaries between work and homelife in which one in seven (15%) admit to smoking or vaping during business meetings. Furthermore, nearly one in eight (12%) say they have slept during a work meeting and 7% admit to secretly consuming alcohol.

In other cases, issues arose when workers didn’t hit the mute or blank screen button. One in five (19%) admit to forgetting they were on camera and doing something embarrassing, whilst 16% say they forgot to press mute and said something insulting or awkward about someone else on the call.

That being said, there is no doubt that hybrid working has brought many benefits for workers. Compliments of this contemporary lifestyle include increased flexibility, comfort and no longer spending time undertaking lengthy commutes. For these reasons, over half of office workers stated they wouldn’t even consider a job that didn’t include working from home. This suggests that employers who don’t present WFH as an option could be choosing from a much smaller pool of talent.

However, the research has ultimately indicated there are significant consequences to the hybrid lifestyle, both personally and for the business. One in 25 office workers (4%) say that they have even lost their job as a result of something which happened whilst on a video call. Furthermore, those that have since returned back to the office have exhibited lower standards during in-person meetings.

Kelli Koschmann, Chief People Officer, Showpad said:

While the results provide fascinating insight into what some Brits get up to when they switch the webcam off during calls, the research raises serious points about how to engage those to whom you are speaking on a video call and what we can do to improve the quality of those interactions.

Many of us will have been in a situation where we are presenting or selling to someone and then we suddenly see their camera go off, raising doubts about whether the person at the other end of the computer is still listening, or even there. Whilst there is no magic bullet, technology can help. Asynchronous communication, for example, through an engaging medium like video messaging, allows employees to communicate effectively and efficiently, both within a business and across businesses, whenever and wherever works best for them.

Kelli Koschmann, Chief People Officer, Showpad

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.