More people than ever are conducting meetings from home and for many people, that work-from-home arrangement is looking like it might just be here to stay. Now that we're no longer cobbling together home office solutions, you may want to make sure that your home office is fully prepared for virtual meetings. Is your home office Zoom ready? Consider these important elements.
How to Set Up Your Home Office for Video Meetings
1. Choose the right space for your office.
In the early days of Covid-19 related shutdowns, people were working from anywhere. Some people turned closets into workspaces. Others chose to work in the living room, surrounded by their families. If you're planning a more permanent shift to virtual work, however, or if you have a major presentation or meeting coming up start by choosing the right space for your office.
Ideally, you want a space where you can get your back to a large, blank wall. A solid background is ideal for your virtual meetings. If you do have artwork on the wall, make sure it's simple and tasteful: something that won't distract from your presentation. If you must be near a doorway, try to angle your camera so that it's pointed away from that opening to help avoid accidental "guest appearances" from your family members.
Setting the Stage for Your Personality
Not everyone has a large, blank wall in the home that's perfect for a virtual call. If you're stuck without a blank backdrop for your next meeting, take the time to look for a space in your home that reflects you: your unique personality. You want a space that is neat, organised, and that reflects your personal brand.
Turn on a virtual meeting of your own, activate your camera, and really take a look at what appears in the frame. Are those objects that reflect who you are and what you want others to think of when they think of you? If so, you may be on your way to a successful virtual background. On the other hand, if you notice that the items behind you aren't things you want your coworkers or clients to see, rearrange and curate accordingly.
2. Declutter the area.
The first step in setting up the ideal home office for video meetings begins with decluttering. Once you've selected your office space, whether a permanent one that you'll work from on a regular basis or a temporary one for a big meeting that prevents you from using your favourite virtual background take the time to clean up anything you don't really need in the area.
Clear the random items off of your desk: the picture your child brought in a few weeks ago, the extra books cluttering your desk or the pile of chargers that you haven't gotten around to moving. With a big meeting coming up, this is the perfect time to file away any items that you don't need and prevent distractions during that meeting.
Decluttering the area, however, does not necessarily mean that you have to put together a perfectly sterile environment. Instead, consider the things that you might have out on your desk if you were back in a formal office environment. What pictures might you choose to leave out for others to see? What items do you typically keep on your desk? Do you have a favourite stress ball? A cup full of pens? Specific technology that you use on a regular basis? Those items, you may want to leave in sight.
3. Check your technology ahead of time.
At this point, it should go without saying that you need a strong internet connection for a virtual meeting to run well. Running a meeting off of your phone's hotspot or trying to conduct a meeting with glitchy, uncertain internet is far from ideal. Make sure you're located near your WiFi router or move it, if necessary. Then, before your meeting, check the rest of your technology to ensure that it's working effectively.
Evaluate Your Camera
Turn on your camera and make sure that it's picking you up clearly and that there isn't anything you don't want your colleagues to see in the frame. Some people choose to use external video cameras for better overall clarity. If you're using a laptop, mobile device, or camera that is not fixed to the desk or the wall in some way, make sure you move it a few inches back and check the view just in case it gets jostled during the meeting. If there's anything in the frame that you wouldn't want other attendees to see, now is the ideal time to deal with those problems.
Test Your Microphone
Your microphone is your most important tool in a virtual meeting. Make sure you test the audio from the device you intend to use during the meeting itself: for example, if you know you'll be using a headset, you should check the audio on the headset mic, not the one on your computer. You might want to test call a friend or family member and ask them about your audio quality, especially if you've had problems in the past.
Invest in Good Speakers
Your microphone and camera are responsible for delivering your content to everyone else involved in the meeting. Your speakers, however, are responsible for delivering their words to you and if you're trying to get by on laptop speakers, it may not be enough. Instead of using the standard speakers that come with your laptop, consider investing in a high-quality speaker or headphones that will make it easier for you to hear everything that's discussed in your meeting. If you know that there will be a lot of potential distractions during your meeting with the kids at home, for example, you may want to consider investing in a solid pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
Never use a new device for the first time on the day of a big meeting. Whenever possible, try out your technology well ahead of time so you're comfortable and confident in using it to manage your meeting.
4. Evaluate your lighting.
There are two keys to workspace lighting for professional video meetings. First, make sure that your workspace is well-lit so that you won't suffer from unnecessary eye strain. Ambient lighting, table lamps, and overhead lights can all help brighten up your workspace and make it easy for you to see both your devices and any paperwork you'll need to go over during and after your meeting.
The other key to your lighting is the appearance you'll create in your video calls. If you have relatively dim light in your room, or the primary source of light comes from behind you, it could cast your face into shadow and make it difficult to see either you or anything you want to display during the meeting. If you have a major one-time presentation coming up, consider testing a lamp or other light source behind your device, where it will shine light toward your face and illuminate you for the camera. If you have a more regular virtual meeting schedule ahead of you, try purchasing a light specifically designed for illuminating your virtual calls.
5. Create a productive space.
The overall design of your office space can make a huge difference in your productivity and it can actually increase your confidence during a meeting or presentation. Take the time to create a productive, organised space. You may not have the same physical room that you would have in a formal office environment, but you also have more freedom with the equipment, furniture, and items you choose and they can all reflect your personal needs and job responsibilities.
Create an Organisation System
As you prepare your home office, create an organisation system that works for you. Use folders, files, and post-it notes. Add important reminders to a bulletin board on the wall behind your desk. A simple organisation system can go a long way toward improving overall productivity.
Keep the Items You Need On Hand
What items are you most likely to need in the daily course of your job? Do you need to have a pen that you can quickly bring to your hand? Post-it notes? Specific files you may need to refer back to over the course of your meeting? Make sure those items are on hand and ready for when you need them most. Not only will it make you appear more professional and prepared, but it can also help streamline your everyday productivity in unexpected ways.
6. Dress for success.
As you're preparing your home office for professional video meetings, make sure you also take the time to prepare yourself! While it's fine to work in your pyjamas on days when you don't have anything important going on, you may find that getting dressed for the day can help set you up for success, making you feel more professional and pulled together. Don't simply get dressed from the waist up and put on your pyjama bottoms, either, since you never know when you might need to stand up while on screen.
Are you ready to make the most of working from home? Contact us today with your vital technology questions or more information about what products you need to make the most of your time at home.