In recent years, the front-facing camera has become the iconic symbol of social media and the global “selfie culture.” In the new world of social distancing and remote work, that same cultural icon has rapidly transformed into the cornerstone and foundation for the new world of remote work.
COVID-19 has forced millions of workers across the United States to adjust to remote work long term. Without front-facing cameras—something we’ve all dismissed as a selfie tool—most companies would have ground to a halt during the pandemic.
While remote work would have been possible, cameras have made it much easier to continue many functions, like holding team meetings, conducting one-on-ones, and even having job interviews. Front-facing cameras have had a monumental impact on helping team members stay connected across cities and, in some cases, have opened the door to an entirely remote work experience—from your first interview to your last day at a company.
The Evolution of Front-Facing Cameras
Technology has come a long way since the first webcam was invented over 25 years ago. Some say the very first webcam was created in 1993 as a way to keep tabs on when a coffee pot would need to be refilled, while others like Sony have said that cameras on flip phones were meant to help users take videoconference calls while on the go. It’s hard to believe that in 2004, when HireVue was founded, we had to send each individual a webcam to complete his or her interview.
Over a quarter century and 15 million virtual interviews later, front-facing cameras have become ubiquitous and have had a tremendous impact on society and how we conduct business. For example, in the hiring process, candidates aren’t surprised if they’re asked to use their camera while interviewing for jobs.
The jobseeking and interview process has also become much more accessible thanks to front-facing cameras. Together with technology’s evolution, candidates are able to interview for jobs outside of business hours asynchronously, making it easier for those already working a 9–5 job or tied up with child care to have access to the same opportunities as others without those restrictions. This freedom liberates candidates, widens the candidate pool, and allows recruiters to streamline and accelerate the hiring process.
On a broader level, not only have front-facing cameras lent themselves to “selfie culture” and the rise of social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok following the release of the original iPhone® in 2007, but they’ve also made it possible for remote work to take off.
How Front-Facing Cameras Made Remote Work Possible
While many technological advancements have made remote work possible over the last few years, the front-facing camera has served as its doorway and foundation, opening up opportunities to take traditional ways of hiring, onboarding, and conducting business online. There are many misconceptions about remote work, including the notion that it’s too lonely, it’s impossible to sustain a company culture virtually, or it only works for certain fields (IT, developers, etc.).
In reality, the front-facing camera has played an essential role in making remote work possible by addressing each of these myths. With front-facing cameras, employees can connect with coworkers, recruiters, and managers across cities or countries, all while having a fulfilling and productive work experience despite not being in an office setting. Front-facing cameras have become the cornerstone of the imminent entirely remote work experience.
Today, it’s not uncommon for people to interview for jobs, go through onboarding, and work for weeks or months without having met their team or a single person from their company in person. Despite this, many companies are finding creative ways to sustain their company culture through virtual means, all thanks to the ways technology and cameras have evolved.
Navigating COVID-19 and Remote Work Without Front-Facing Cameras
Without front-facing cameras, business would have ground to a halt during COVID-19. For companies not as heavily impacted by the pandemic, or for those that needed to rapidly hire to meet demand, it would have been difficult to hire and source new talent without being able to “meet” them virtually.
And, when companies shifted to working remotely, many struggled with finding ways to replicate company culture in a virtual way, as well as keeping morale and motivation up. Not only have front-facing cameras made it possible for people to combat isolation and continue to socialize, but they’ve also made it easier to continue to hold business meetings in a virtual medium and allow team members to build deeper connections with one another.
Now that many have had a taste of remote work, video interviewing, and other virtual ways of conducting business, it will be hard to turn back to how we used to operate. Front-facing cameras have become a staple in our everyday and work lives and have opened our eyes to new ways of connecting with teammates and working.
Thanks to how far technology has evolved over the last 25 years, companies are able to operate in ways they might not have been able to imagine in the past, from interviewing candidates at scale to even operating fully remote companies with disparate workforces spread across the world.
Kevin Parker is Chairman and CEO of HireVue, a virtual interviewing company that has hosted over 15 million on-demand and live interviews. Through its video interviewing software and prehire assessments, HireVue helps global enterprises gain a competitive advantage in the modern talent marketplace. In response to coronavirus, his company is currently offering free video interviewing to numerous organizations, including hospitals. You can learn more here.