Use An Office Camera To Keep Remote Workers Feeling Connected

Working from home has many advantages, but it can make it harder to feel connected to what your colleagues are up to. Online chat and video-conferencing can make that easier, but to convey a sense of the workplace, consider doing what we did and setting up a permanent camera in the office.

As many Lifehacker readers will already know, our beloved and award-winning night editor Elly Hart is now working from Canada. We set up an online chat system for day-to-day stuff and we plan to use Skype for regular meetings, but neither of those could quite convey the sense of who was in the office on a given day.

So we set up an AXIS monitoring camera above Elly's old desk. This is a model designed for use in security applications, so it can pan and zoom and keeps an ongoing recording. We don't need that last feature, but the ability to view the camera via a password-protected web address means Elly can instantly see who is in the office, what they're wearing and what changes have taken place. (The shot here is zoomed in on the permanently messy desk of Kotaku editor Mark Serrels.)

There was a bit of fiddly network work to get the camera working and a few people were initially a bit freaked out by the thought of potentially being on camera, but it's taken for granted now. If you regularly work away from the office, a similar solution could help create a sense of team cohesion.


    It makes all the difference. I take one snapshot a day and tease the office with it :)

      I'm a telecommuter and will be moving to the seaside next week, I plan to do the same. I might even set up my own permanent webcam and point it out the window :-)

    How'd you get everyone in the office to agree on being monitored 24 hours a day? I always thought this was a HR no no.....

      In this case it would be the same as being observed by a coworker sitting in the cubicle next to you, as long as the stream isn't being recorded.

      I'm based in Melbourne, while the rest of my company is based in Sydney and some of them have refused to use skype webcams when i call to catch up never mind a 24/7 camera. I would love it because i do feel very disconnected.

    Interesting approach. Is this in realtime? And if so, how does this work with the time difference?

    I would love to be able to do this for a teleworking colleague, but I'm already imagining the freakouts from our IT and Security people :(

    When I began working from home over 4 years ago, I left my work PC at my old desk, plugged a webcam in and set up skype full screen, set it to auto answer, and added myself as the only contact. I would then skype in from my remote office to my 'virtual me' in the office, worked great.
    People in the office could walk up to the 'virtual me' and have a conversation almost as if I was there, and I could remain part of the office conversation that went on around 'virtual me'.

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