Teleconferencing and virtual meetings have become the go-to solution to staying connected to everyone from family members to coworkers. Programs and apps like Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet have allowed even the most tech-challenged among us to jump on the video conferencing wagon and join remote face-to-face sessions like a pro.
Of course, even if you're ready to log on, your home office background may not be camera-ready. We’ve all had those embarrassing moments when as soon as we click “join meeting” chaos erupts—the baby starts crying, the older kids start running around, and the dog knocks over his water bowl. Ugh! While you may not have given it much thought, a "bad" background image can create distractions, reduce productivity, and affect how others perceive your professionalism.
Before you Google "how to set up a virtual background" and take your meeting buddies into outer space or to a tropical beach, consider fixing up your personal work space instead. You can make a big impact with just a few low-budget home improvements, so you can ditch that fake backdrop forever and create an impression everyone will envy.
Set Up a Dedicated Work Space
Using a laptop provides flexibility to work anywhere in your home—your kitchen table, backyard deck, or family room sofa. While it may be convenient, it's better to designate a single spot for those meetings.
Find an area in your home where you can control the environment behind you. Look for a place that's quiet and free from distractions. It shouldn't be located in a high-traffic area like your kitchen where family members, kids, and pets might wander by during a session or where team members can see dirty dishes piled in the sink.
The best place should provide a clear distinction between "work space" and "home space."
Start with the wall color behind you. To look your best through the camera lens, you should choose solid blue, green, gray, tan, or beige paint color. Stay away from bright white, very dark colors, or high sheen which will wash you out and/or create shadows. If you're not a big fan of painting, you might consider hiring a handyman to create the clean background finish you desire.
While you want to portray a professional image, your home "office space" doesn't have to be a sterile environment—in fact, it can and should be a reflection of your personality. Bookshelves are a great way to convey that image. Choose a pre-built shelf unit or go all out with a built-in style. Then accessorize with a few tasteful items. In this case, less is more so avoid loading it up with tons of family photos (the glass can glare) or knick knacks. Include a little greenery with some small plants (real or artificial are fine), a nice selection of books (a few with classic titles might be nice or consider some related to your industry or field of work.)
Modular shelving and closets can be adapted to fit into just about any workspace and can provide extra storage in an attractive unit. Make sure there are doors to hide extra paperwork or work materials. The idea is to reduce clutter and disorganization to present the best image possible.
What you sit on during a video call is important too. Don't sit on an exercise ball, wobbly chair, or overly comfortable sofa when you're on a video call. Choose a nice armchair or even high-backed office chair with lumbar support to help you sit up straight and encourage good posture. If the chair rocks, consider locking it during calls to stop you from inadvertently moving from nervous energy.
If you don't have room for furniture or shelving behind you, hang a few tasteful pieces of artwork as a nice backdrop. Inspirational pictures and quotes can also be quite effective. It's not necessary to have a priceless Van Gogh but it is important to have your artwork hung level and at the right height. It will be worth the cost of a handyman visit to make sure your important client isn't distracted by a crooked painting on the wall behind you.
Natural lighting from a window is always preferred but may not always be possible. Your home office should have at least two light sources—one overhead and one on your desk. Create the proper mood with softer, diffused lighting. Consider adding a dimmer to an overhead light to help avoid glare and shadows. Remember, if the ceiling light is part of a paddle fan, refrain from running the fan during video conferencing. Spinning blades are a major distraction. Also, don't sit in front of a window or no one will be able to see you.
Want to take your lighting up a notch? Add a ring light to your office decor. Place your webcam or Smartphone in the center of the ring light. Made specifically for this purpose, strips of LEDs are built into a halo-shaped light ring to help minimize shadows, harsh lines, and distracting reflections. You'll be amazed at just how good you look.
While this doesn't relate to your background image, make sure you have the right connectivity to avoid glitchy or dropped calls. When possible, a hardwired connection will be faster and more reliable than WiFi. It's also less susceptible to hacking or other privacy issues. You'll want to hire a professional to make sure you have the proper cabling and smart home set-up to handle all your teleconferencing needs. If you're using a laptop, plug it in during video calls so you'll never worry about a dead battery in the middle of a session again.
Let Puls Help Bring Your Background into the Forefront
Puls' technicians are very familiar with today's latest technologies and have the skills to get your home office ready for all your video conferencing needs. From handyman services to prepare your space for "prime time viewing" to high-level connectivity, we've got you covered.
We know life is more complicated than ever, so we do our best to work with your schedule. Book an appointment online when it's convenient for you, and our specialist will be there—guaranteed. Some same-day appointments are available too.
It's time you take control of your reality—no fake virtual meeting background needed. Contact Puls today to get started.