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With employees now working from home, meetings are being conducted online via platforms like Skype, Zoom, Teams and Slack. While virtual meetings require preparation and a new set of etiquette rules, that doesn’t mean your dream of reporting for duty in your pyjamas every day is doomed. The trick is to not let your colleagues see the reality of your home office – here’s how.
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Use a laptop or desktop – not a phone
First things first: Even though it’s more convenient to use the mobile app on your smartphone to have a virtual meeting, it’s not a good idea. Not only does this look unprofessional, but the image will also be unstable and you won’t be able to take notes. Use your laptop or desktop to make the call instead and save yourself the trouble of holding your phone or trying to balance it on your desk.
Choose a professional setting
The safest approach to ensuring a setting that’s as professional and clean as possible is to have a neutral-coloured wall – think shades of white or grey – in the background. Otherwise, bookcases, work desks and professional-looking plants are quick at-home solutions. Anything distracting in the background will distract your audience from what you’re saying. If your home isn’t an ideal space for video calls, you can place a chair against a wall and set up a table in front of you for your laptop.
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Work from a carpeted room
If the room you’re having your virtual meeting from is empty and uncarpeted, it can result in hollow, echoey audio to your colleagues. In this case, you can simply put a rug and some pillows on the floor to help absorb bounce. The next thing to consider is the room size if the people calling in are still struggling to hear you. For a small to medium meeting (between 10 and 15 people), the room size ideally shouldn’t be larger than 3×4.5m, but it could be larger with necessary acoustics.
Use appropriate lighting
We’ve all seen how image quality suffers when the room is dimly lit – not to mention how unprofessional and dated it looks. It might be tempting to fix this by having an LED desk lamp on your desk or sitting under a bright overhead light, but indirect white light is much more flattering than harsh direct light that makes shadows. Place yourself near a window which will filter natural light onto your face. Just make sure you face the window rather than put your back to it.
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Change into your ‘work’ pyjamas
For audio-only calls, it’s totally fine to leave your ‘leisure’ pyjamas and fuzzy slippers on. However, for video calls, you’ll have to change to your ‘work pyjamas’. In other words, switch from your favourite flannel PJs to your functional black business ones – or a pair that you can throw a shirt over to pass as ‘dressed’ in a video call. If you feel like your comfy yoga pants affect how you speak and interact even though they aren’t visible on screen, then dressing professionally is a must.
Candice is the coffee-drinking, fashion obsessed editor behind Hello Joburg Magazine. She’s a self-confessed foodie and champagne enthusiast who also loves all things beauty, travel and home and décor.