Whether it’s an office meeting or a virtual happy hour with your friends, we all want our tiny image in the corner of the computer screen to look neat, professional, and inviting. Now, after months of working from home, many of us are questioning how we can up our Zoom meeting game. Sure, we could throw a virtual background up and call it a day, but wouldn’t it be nice if your space looked picture-perfect all the time? Here are some ways to upgrade your home office space and make your work from home days as comfortable — and aesthetically pleasing — as possible.
Let There Be Light
Before worrying about your background, make sure you have the proper necessities for a virtual meeting. While your room’s light fixture might be all you need to see on your end, that single, yellow bulb in your ceiling fan might not cast you in, well, the best light. Don’t leave your colleagues distracted by the weird glare! To fix this, utilize any natural lighting you can. If you find there are still too many shadows, or your office doesn’t provide the right amount of natural light, invest in a lamp or ring light to designate a light source for your meetings.
Once you have found your light, you can move on to camera placement and angles. Since these video calls are supposed to represent an in-person meeting, it is important that your camera is focused on you. This means keeping your camera at eye-level and centering yourself on the screen. This will give the impression that you are having a face-to-face conversation with the other person. To accomplish this, use a monitor riser to keep your in-monitor camera at the level you need, or adjust your chair. Oh, and going back to lighting – your light should be in front of you, illuminating your face, not behind you.
Curate Your Background
Now that the computer end of your office is ready to go, you can decide how you want your background to look. For professional meetings, it’s in your best interest to keep a “real-life” background rather than a green screen. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first: It’s more professional. If your company allows for a more laid-back environment, then maybe you can experiment with a green screen beach setting, but typically, even your plain office wall is the best option. The second: Green screens can be tricky. You don’t want to hold a meeting and have your coworkers be distracted because half your head keeps disappearing into the background.
Tidy up your dedicated Zoom space by decluttering your area. Moving unnecessary items such as furniture or smaller desk items out of the frame of your camera can make your space feel more open and organized. If you feel like your background is too empty, try adding items to the wall behind you, rather than in your immediate space; art pieces or small potted plants add color and texture to your space. Black thumb? Try a faux plant instead. This will not only add depth to your room, but will also create a relaxing environment for you to work!
Accessorize your Display Space
If your bookshelf has become your go-to backdrop, but you feel like it isn’t up to RoomRater’s 10-point scoring system, organizing books by size or color can add a unique texture to your background. You can also incorporate small, personal knickknacks to make your space more inviting to the attendees without sacrificing your personality. These also serve as conversation starters! There’s nothing worse than meeting a new person via Zoom – a unique item in your background can break the ice. Finally, they create connections between coworkers — just as if you were back at the office standing around the water cooler.
Till We Meet Again
While we all wish things could return to normal, figuring out how to navigate Zoom meetings has brought on a new wave of coworker empathy. We are all learning how to make things run as smoothly as possible — even with the interruptions of children or pets — but turning your background into a fun project can relieve some of the stress of working from home, while giving you a fun and professional look.
Jessi Gonzalez writes on the topics of home-buying, home decor, and home-ownership for New Home Source. She has a degree from Coastal Bend College and is currently enrolled in the English degree program at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.