How to Create the Best Zoom Friendly Home Office
Working from home has become the norm for many people in the UK. Both employers and employees are enjoying the benefits of remote work and have been perfecting their home office set ups for increased productivity. However, this has presented some 21st century hurdles that many didn’t think they’d ever have to consider.
In 2020, the number of Zoom accounts opened skyrocketed 2000% between January and April alone. Zoom, along with other video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, have become a necessity for those working from home. However, whilst many have been perfecting the business shirt and pyjama bottoms outfits for their meetings, many have neglected their office set up. Below, we share some tips and tricks that will put you at ease when you’re on camera.
Home office lighting
Lighting behind you? You’re a silhouette. Bright lighting? You’re a film noir villain. Getting the lighting right for your Zoom meetings is key, not only do you want to look your best, it’s helpful for attendees to be able to read your facial expressions and gestures too. Not everything we say is best communicated verbally.
Whether natural or artificial, the best positioning for a Zoom meeting is with light directly in front of you. This will create an even cast of light across your face, eliminating any unflattering shadows or backlighting issues.
If you’re still having issues, get your hands on a spare lamp and place it just out of view on whichever side needs an extra boost. This should help even any unwanted shadows out.
Home office tech
Lighting can make a huge impact on video quality, even if you are using an ancient webcam. However, if meeting attendees are complaining about your visual or audio quality it may be time to upgrade to a new model. Alternatively, if you have a smartphone or tablet you can easily add the correct software to use the device for your meetings instead.
If you’re camera quality is perfect, but the audio is affecting your Zoom meetings you could try adjusting your settings. Chances are, however, that you may need to introduce a set of headphones or a microphone. Desktop microphones are easy to install; most are simple USB connections that install any software automatically. However, if you’d prefer to eliminate all background noise – parents and pet owners will understand this struggle – then a headset with microphone could be the best solution. These typically plug into your audio jack, just like regular headphones, and have a pull-down microphone that sits just in front of your mouth. Not only is audio better with headsets but you can easily block out anything distracting you in the background.
Home office furniture
Ergonomic offices chairs
Are you sitting comfortably? There is nothing more annoying than trying to engage in a Zoom meeting when you’re uncomfortable. Chances are that others on the call will be able to sense your discomfort. Let’s not even mention constant shuffling teamed with peculiar chair noises.
Having an ergonomic office chair will not only stop you fidgeting in meetings and allow you to focus, but your back will thank you too. Ergonomic office chairs ensure you’re sitting with the best posture and reduces stress on your spine, neck, and hips. You will want to purchase a desk chair with a headrest which supports your neck and shoulders, with a backrest that supports the natural curve of your spine.
Simple bookshelves and storage
The aim of the game with your home office is to remain as clutter-free as possible. A tidy space is a tidy mind – having items around you will divert your focus during meetings and affect your productivity. You will also want to ensure that your video background is neutral and not too busy. Bookshelves and storage cubbies are a great way to keep your items neatly arranged without having them sprawled everywhere. You can even go one step further and use storage boxes and lever arch files to create a tidy and cohesive background for your video calls.
The best work from home office setup
Ultimately, your remote working set up needs to make you feel comfortable. If you’re happy in your home office and can work effectively it is likely that your meetings will go without a hitch.
If you’re yet to have your first Zoom call from home – perhaps you have started a new job – then suggest a trial run with a colleague so you can test your setup. Any teething issues and take a look back at the tips and tricks we have outlined above, they are sure to help you create a home office you are happy with.
Don’t panic if you’re on a video call and something goes wrong. With so many people working from home, everyone is used to a child racing in, or your background being stuck to a shot of the Eiffel Tower. Remember, everyone is in the same position and technology, and home life, do not always go the way you planned. The most important thing is to be yourself and, if you need a couple of minutes to rectify something, let your colleagues or clients know. This way, you’ll present the best possible version of yourself.