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An online cocktail party last month during the coronavirus lockdown. Photo by AP
April 3, 2020 1:26 PM PDT

Before the coronavirus pandemic forced Vanessa Sussman to work from home, it never bothered her that colleagues didn't turn on their cameras during meetings over video calls. But now, given the deluge of Zoom calls she has been participating in for work, it seems slightly rude to Sussman, a vice president of communications at financial firm Morningstar.

“I’ll say something like, ‘Oh, Steve! I can’t see you!’” said Sussman about her attempts to coax a colleague to turn on his camera. “And he will say, ‘Oh, I’m here!’” 

As video calls replace daily interaction, more people than ever before suddenly find themselves navigating new terrain, figuring out new codes of behavior as they go along. When is it OK to keep your camera off? How does one end a call without seeming rude or awkward? Furthermore, how does one politely turn down an invitation to a call when everyone knows you’re stuck at home? 

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