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Your video conferencing backdrop could impact your career

May 21, 2020
A new nationwide study commissioned by Eskenzi PR, and carried out by OnePoll, examined how video conferencing has changed workers’ perception of their colleagues. The results, announced in May, found that 40% of UK workers judge their colleagues on how their house looks over video conferencing.

Fortunately, of those who admit letting the appearance of their co-workers' houses influence their opinion of them, 28% say they now view their co-workers more favourably. Still, it might be an incentive to do some decorating and tidying up, as 12% of respondents said the state of their co-workers’ house negatively influenced their judgements.  

Furthermore, of the 1,000 people interviewed, a quarter said looking professional on video conferencing calls has made them view their co-workers in a better light. Perhaps counter-intuitively, video conferencing has also made a quarter of respondents feel they know their colleagues better and therefore appreciate them more (25%). 

Interestingly, women seemed to be less concerned with these factors than men, with 61% saying they don’t feel they know their colleagues better and view them neither more or less favourably thanks to video conferencing, compared to 50% of men.

Other interesting findings include:

Age groups

Older generations seem to be less concerned with what their co-workers house looks like, with 73% of people over 55 saying their opinion hasn’t changed, compared to 39% for 18-24 year olds and 52% for 25-34.

Gender

Men were more likely to say they view their co-workers in a more positive light thanks to video conferencing because they feel they got to know them better (30% of males versus 20% of females).  Women were less concerned with how their colleagues presented themselves professionally. 17% of men cited this as the reason they view their co-workers less favourably, compared to just 10% of women.

Yvonne Eskenzi, founder and owner of Eskenzi PR said, “In 2017, the BBC ran the headline ‘Children interrupt BBC News interview’, when political scientist Robert Kelly’s children irrupted in the room where he was in a video conference in his home office. Today, such an event would be hardly newsworthy, as some 20 million Britons have shifted to remote work and have learnt how hard it is to keep pets off their keyboards and flatmates in pyjamas out of shot.”

“It seems these relatable incidents have made people see a more human side of their colleagues. Our survey, however, also highlighted how important it still is to curate the details, even as we all work out of our living rooms and bedrooms. Ultimately, the secret is striking a balance between professional and approachable. And for those of us that don’t want the hassle, there are always Zoom backgrounds!”

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