These days we’re much more likely to greet our business contacts online through video conferencing than at our front door. How we look on camera during these Internet encounters is crucially important. We can’t show up in our pajamas, for instance, or with our hair all mussy.
Likewise, we can’t let our surrounding office space look only half-dressed.
A survey appearing in the HarvardBusiness Review a while ago polled nearly 500 adults about their video conferencing preferences and expectations. Regarding what’s in the background of the video picture, 60 percent said they want to see things that suggest the person with whom they’re electronically visiting is authentic, trustworthy, and smart.
So, right off the bat that tells you most people don’t want you faking things by using one of those green-screen backdrops that let you digitally insert yourself into a stock photo of an elegant office interior or maybe a tropical beach (especially not the latter, because who’s going to believe you have a desk on a sandy, palm-tree-lined spit of shoreline anyway?).
Where this leaves us is with the need to make sure our office space is in actuality dressed to impress. That’s what I’ve done with my own work-from-home office.
Minimalism is a good look
With video conferencing in mind, I’ve chosen to go for a somewhat minimalist look. That is, I’ve made the portion of the room that is visible in the camera’s frame as uncluttered as possible.
I could have gone with a bare wall and no room décor—that’s about as minimalist as it gets. But that would be as bad as having a space full of clutter. Both a barren and a cluttered room are visually distracting.
A certain amount of distraction is okay. Permit me to explain. In the background of my home office is a wood-framed round mirror (the camera is angled away from the mirror, so I need to be careful that whatever’s reflected is something I don’t mind my visitors seeing).
Also in the background is a hanging macrame containing a plant. Both the wood-framed mirror and the hanging plant bring pleasant warmth and character to the room.
Something else I have visible in the background is a Live Picture Plant Frame. It’s within the camera’s view because it makes a great conversation starter—my video conference guests often say how unexpected it is to see plants growing out from a picture frame. I liked that the Live Picture Plant Frame was easy to install, is low-maintenance and adds green without taking space.
Like I say, a great conversation piece, but, as a bonus, it also helps give my workspace a much stronger biophilic vibe.
Have good lighting
Lighting is important, too. And natural lighting is the best. So, for video calls during daylight hours, I make sure to face the window (as opposed to having the window behind me, which would create a backlit effect that reduces the image quality).
There are of course days when it's overcast or it’s nighttime. For those occasions (and for other times as well), I make use of a special directional lamp. It’s from the Phil Zen Design catalog (the 0S1 Smart Table Lamp). It has a dimmer, center circle color and white balance change controls, and direction light adjustment.
One of the things I most like about this lamp (in addition to its small footprint, sleek design, and beautiful finish) is that I can adjust the hue and temperature of the light from cool blue to warm white so that it matches my current circadian rhythm and mood or so that it can inspire me to be more productive during the workday or be more relaxed when it's time to wind down for the night.
Video-conference meetings are usually brief, but the impression they leave with our visitors is long-lasting. That's why we should always try to showcase ourselves AND our workspace in the best way possible during Zoom calls and the like.
In other words, we need our offices to be as dressed for success as we ourselves are. Browse our favorites to discover some other amazing dress-up designs.