Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home was on the rise. According to a 2019 Gallup survey, 43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. The pandemic has shown that working from home is not only possible, but often preferable. It's more efficient, it saves on office costs, and it's better for the environment.
The pandemic has also driven the widespread adoption of video conferencing as a way to stay connected with colleagues, customers, and partners. And while there are many great video conferencing apps out there, they all have one thing in common: they require a decent internet connection and a quiet, well-lit place to set up your laptop or phone.
If you're working from home and using video conferencing on a regular basis, here are some tips to set up your work-from-home area for successful remote calls:
Keep your camera lens clean: Your laptop's camera lens can get just as dirty as your phone's, so be sure to give it a quick wipe-down before each call. A microfiber cloth can do the trick, or you can find lens wipes specifically designed for cleaning lenses.
Make sure your background is uncluttered: A cluttered or busy background can be distracting for both you and the people you're talking to. If possible, choose a blank wall or simple, subtle decor as your backdrop.
Pay attention to your camera angle: No one wants to look up your nose on a video call, so make sure the camera is at eye level. You may need to prop your laptop up on a stack of books or boxes to get the right angle. You should be in the middle of the frame and there should be a little bit of headroom.
Find a well-lit spot: Good lighting is key for any kind of photography, and video conferencing is no exception. If possible, find a spot near a window where natural light can help illuminate your face.
Avoid backlighting: When choosing a spot for your laptop or phone, make sure you're not backlit by a window or another light source. Backlighting will make it difficult for others on the call to see your face, so it's best to avoid it if possible.
Use artificial lighting: If you can't find a well-lit spot, or if you're using video conferencing at night, artificial lighting can help. There are several affordable lighting options on the market that can be used to light up your face without washing out the rest of the room. In a pinch – you can go grab a lamp to put behind your computer!
No at-home set up is perfect but no need to stress! Dogs barking and kids screaming are now the new norm.
That being said, if you are able to try your best to choose a quiet spot. Find a spot that is as free from noise and activity as possible. If you have kids at home, try to set up your workspace in a room that can be closed off or at least far away from where they are playing. If you have a furry friend – give them a long-term distracting treat or put them in another space.
This may not be readily accessible, but the strongest audio you can have is an external microphone, like a desk, or lavalier microphone. It will isolate your audio, lessen some of the background noise, and reduce echo.
Test your audio: Before you start your call, do a quick test of your audio to make sure everything is working properly. Most video conferencing apps have a function that allows you to do a soundcheck before joining a meeting.
We’ve all had the frustrating or stressful moment dealing with a weak or patchy internet connection. Avoid frustration by making sure you have a strong and reliable connection before you start your call. A hardwired connection with an ethernet cable is your safest bet.
Setting up your home office for successful remote calls doesn't have to be complicated. Just remember to be conscious of your connection, background, camera, audio and lighting setup. Now go ace this video meeting!
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