Professionalism From Home: How to Set Up Your Workspace to Enhance Video Calls
April 16, 2021
The advent of the work-from-home (WHF) culture has brought many positive changes that some employers may want to continue. Saving money and resources by working from home could become the new trend in employment and may serve as a benefit employers could offer new hires.
The increasing popularity of video calls and video conferencing has seen the work environment shift to a more WFH-friendly one. However, it’s important to maintain a level of professionalism in the “workplace,” even if the workplace is your home office. The following sections may provide helpful information on creating an amazing workspace for video calls at home.
Start with the Right Office Furniture
The following sections explore items that can help make your home office experience more enjoyable and professional. With as much time as we spend in our offices, creating a comfortable and functional space can be well worth the investment.
Having the right office furniture can impact everything, from the ease with which you multitask to your ability to present yourself professionally when conducting a video chat with clients or co-workers. Let’s discuss a few pieces of furniture and explain how they can support your at-home office environment.
Where you sit and how you sit has a great deal of influence over your productivity and professionalism in your home office. Choosing to invest in a quality office chair is one immediate way to improve the comfort of your workspace. There are varying types of office chairs to serve your needs. Some popular choices include:
Task chairs: Providing for easy height and angle adjustments that let you tailor your seat to your specific workstation, task chairs also come with waterfall-style seating that reduces the stress to your legs.
Ergonomic chairs: Typically made of a breathable mesh material that allows for air circulation through the chair itself, ergonomic chairs offer lumbar support for better posture and added comfort, waterfall-style seating and the ability to adjust depth, height, tilt and armrest positions.
Gaming chairs: Don’t let the name fool you. Gaming chairs are also made for long days in the home office. Generally featuring high-density foam seating, these comfortable chairs allow you to tilt knee rests, adjust armrest placement and customize tilt tension for ease of recline.
Executive chairs: Classic executive-style chairs are also a strong option if you want to upscale the professional look of your home office. Finding the right office chair is a highly individual choice that may rely heavily on your WHF needs and budget.
Many of us spend hours each day at our work desks. Choosing to invest in a well-designed desk that gives you the space you desire for completing the tasks at hand can be essential to home office professionalism. Remote workers have a wide array of desk styles to choose from. Here are a few common varieties of office desks:
Computer desks: While any desk can typically house a computer, spending a lot of time in virtual meetings with more and more digital equipment around may call for a computer-centric desk upgrade. Computer desks tend to feature slide-out keyboard trays, cable management, built-in USB ports, and shelving or a hutch for accessories, such as a printer or scanner.
Corner desks: Sometimes categorized alongside L-shaped desks (which have slight differences), corner desks can be used in small or awkward spaces because they are situated in actual corners of a room. These desks are great for remote workers who want immediate access of multiple resources and require plenty of flat space on which to work.
Standing desks: A standing desk environment can be created by placing a desk riser on a pre-existing workspace or purchasing an adjustable desk with sit-stand capability. The big benefits of standing desks include their ability to allow eye-level views from both sitting and standing positions as well as affording a greater range of movement throughout the workday.
As with the selection of office chairs, finding the right desk is about determining what sort of space you require to do your best work.
The importance of a proper light source when attempting to conduct a video conference call or Skype session can’t be overstated and you may find a single desk lamp won’t suffice. Try placing a number of desk and table lamps in a circular fashion around your workspace for a good way to add light to your current setup. An adjustable desk lamp is another option that allows you the freedom to position lighting to your advantage.
If you have the space, floor lamps situated around the outskirts of your desk can also be helpful. To help reduce shadows for a more professionally lit appearance in any video chat, you might consider ring lighting as well.
The overall mood and vibe of your home office plays a role in having a more professional feel. Enhancing the appearance of your home office with accessories like rugs, clocks, plants, or art will help give it some personality and can make it a place that you enjoy being in throughout the day. Thoughtful office decor can also make your backdrop look more pulled together during an online meeting.
Choices for Investing in High-Quality Equipment
The equipment you use for your video calls can make or break the success of your meeting. Poor quality or outdated equipment can lead to grainy video quality, video participants not hearing you or connectivity issues during your call. The following sections describe some of the more important elements of a video call setup.
With many of our work gatherings taking place over apps like Zoom and Google Hangouts, webcams have become a useful tool for successful video conference calls.
However, all webcams are not alike, and it’s important to find one with the right height and angle for your purpose. You may want to compare cameras that will fit into your desk space comfortably and can easily be manipulated to project a clear, eye-level view of your face when seated in your home office.
When it comes to communication in the form of Zoom meetings and such, how you sound can be every bit as important as how you look. Consider a Bluetooth speaker or two to enhance the audio quality in your home office. Installing wireless and Bluetooth speakers that pair with your computer speakers can help you project clear, voluble sound every time you join a meeting.
Note that when adding computer speakers to your home office setup, you may want to invest in additional power sources for your laptop at the same time.
Microphones and Headsets
Being heard clearly when you switch from mute to unmute is another consideration in your home office setup. Utilizing accessories like a computer headset/PC headset or a separate USB mic can help your meeting participants hear your contributions with improved clarity. Some earbuds can lend additional support to the quality of your vocal projection if they cancel out background noise.
The success of your home office is intricately tied to the quality of your internet connection. Boosting your wireless network can make getting and staying connected much simpler and more reliable. Consider investing in internet accessories like upgraded wireless routers and Wi-Fi extenders that can stabilize your connection or increase your bandwidth.
With so much happening on our computer monitors in a remote work setting, it can be helpful to invest in a monitor that aligns with your display needs. You may choose to work on dual monitors, as this can allow for greater productivity if you want to keep one screen open during video calls. Laptop users may also wish to look into computer stands that can add a greater range of motion and accessibility to their monitors.
There are as many kinds of monitors available as there are work styles. Brands like BenQ monitors have risen in popularity due to their full HD/LED screens with high resolutions. Monitor stands have likewise grown in usage, as they allow the user to have greater control over their monitor’s overall positioning.
If you are primarily using a laptop, a laptop charger can help keep your screen alive longer and can be useful in avoiding those unexpected dimming moments that lower monitor clarity.
Software to Stay Connected
Getting savvy with the growing pool of software that connects you to your work colleagues is an ongoing concern. While old faithfuls such as Skype, FaceTime and Zoom remain reliable and popular, there are also other considerations like Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams.
If you are not restricted by your company’s choice of software, you can begin by selecting a program based on your current operating system, as some software will not work across every system or platform. When choosing software, think about whether your company’s communication style leans more toward the traditional webinar or if a more interactive approach is appropriate.
Tips to Make a Great Impression During Your Next Video Call
By considering the advice provided in the following sections, you could be one step closer to making your next video call a success.
Prepare Your Space
Organize your office space in the background of your video so that people aren’t distracted by clutter or personal items behind you. When designing a successful home office, one idea is to present a background that reflects your professionalism or personality.
You might consider placing a bookshelf with framed copies of your professional qualifications or books related to your industry. Plants and colorful pictures may suggest a warm, welcoming atmosphere where clients and co-workers can feel comfortable.
Interruptions can cause lost time, credibility, and even money in a WFH setting. Consider setting up a system where other people living in your house know not to distract you during video conference calls. You can get a card that you hang outside your office door that reads “do not disturb”, plus taking care of children and pets ahead of time can help minimize background noise.
Test Before Starting
Take the time to test all of your essential systems before beginning a video meeting. Check your internet connection, set up your lighting source and speakers and test your headsets or USB mics to see if they are functioning properly. Completing preliminary checks can help avoid an embarrassing moment later due to setup malfunctions.
Create Your Ideal Video Call Workspace
Working from home comes with a unique set of considerations. Choosing the right furniture and accessories can mean the difference between an enjoyable day in your home office and one that leaves you unnecessarily exhausted.
Peter Giffen is a writer and editor who specializes in business and technology.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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