Professional Zoom & Virtual Meeting Backgrounds

Home Office Background Tips for Online Meetings & Video Conferences

With more employees working from home these days, an effective home office setup is a must. As the use of online conferencing grows, so too does the need for appropriate virtual backgrounds. A professional backdrop for video calls requires appropriate decor in a comfortable setting with adequate lighting and sound. Reducing distractions is also essential for a professional home office.

Overview

For more information about creating the best virtual background, keep reading to find helpful tips on:

When working remotely, a professional background is just as important as wearing the proper attire in a business setting. Your backdrop is one of the first things that a potential employer, colleague or boss will notice.
When working remotely, a professional background is just as important as wearing the proper attire in a business setting. Your backdrop is one of the first things that a potential employer, colleague or boss will notice.

Importance of Professional Backgrounds

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. According to some experts, 55 percent of first impressions are visual, especially when you’re meeting and speaking through a computer screen. Body language such as slouching, avoiding eye contact and crossed arms can send the wrong message.

The same goes for your video chat background, too. Video call backdrops affect how colleagues or potential employers view your personality and professionalism. Anything from a sink full of dishes to a controversial piece of art could be off-putting to an interviewer or supervisor, ultimately hurting your career prospects.

Showcasing Your Personality

We often think of clothing as the number one thing that conveys our unique personalities. But when working from home, what’s behind you can also reflect your character. Keep your video conference setting neat and organized to show the other person that you are taking their call seriously.

It’s also important to carefully consider the message you’re sending with your backdrop. If you want to show your boss or coworkers that you are family-oriented, display a few framed pictures of your loved ones in your home office background. For those who want to showcase their creative interests, hang up a few pieces of your own work or select prints from artists that inspire you.

Video Conferences are Here to Stay

Technology is expanding and changing, and the popularity of video conferencing is on the rise. The number of websites and types of software for video calls is growing. Whether you are setting up a Zoom background, WebEx background or Google Meet background, a professional demeanor and setting still apply.

Having a video call app on your phone makes you more accessible for last-minute video calls. Be prepared by choosing a dedicated setting for impromptu meetings. Your go-to for video calls might be a specific corner of your home office, a dining table in front of the buffet, or the corner of your casual living room sectional. Having a clean, professional space makes the process easier and less stressful.

A casual, clean living room is ideal for video calls if you need to join an impromptu meeting while working from home.
A casual, clean living room is ideal for video calls if you need to join an impromptu meeting while working from home.

Creating Quality Video Conferencing Backgrounds: Lighting & Sound

In addition to your video call backdrop, lighting and clear sound quality are essential to conference calls. Before an interview, employers may ask if you have good lighting as well as a microphone or headset. Your laptop or PC should allow you to adjust speaker and microphone volume and change sound quality settings. Testing and adjusting your devices before the call is always a smart move.

Lighting for Virtual Meetings

The right video conference lighting makes a big difference. If your room is too dark, interviewers or colleagues will have trouble seeing your face. However, too much light can make your image seem washed out and unflattering. If possible, use natural light to your advantage by facing a window.

If your home office is still too dark, invest in high-quality light fixtures. Strategically placing a couple of contemporary floor lamps around the room creates a studio effect and provides balanced lighting. Small ring lights that clamp onto the back or sides of your desk are an easy, adjustable option as well. Bendable modern desk lamps also allow you to direct the light and find the perfect angle.

The same task lamp that illuminates your work assignments can also deliver good lighting for video conference calls.
The same task lamp that illuminates your work assignments can also deliver good lighting for video conference calls.

Quality Sound for Video Calls

Proper sound is an essential part of the home video conference experience. Too quiet, and listeners may struggle to hear you. Too loud, and your voice could be distorted or distracting. Before an interview or meeting, test your microphone and external speakers to ensure your voice comes through clearly and that you can hear others without issue.

Wearing headphones can help you zero in on a meeting if your home office is prone to distractions such as pets or traffic noise. If you experience echoing when you speak, try placing a few rugs around the room to absorb sound. If you’re still having problems, troubleshoot your equipment to fix any technical issues.

Decorating a Professional Backdrop for Video Calls

Just like wearing the proper outfit at work, having the right backdrop for video calls can make or break a first impression. Pick a color scheme that suits your office culture and decorate with work-appropriate accents and furniture that’s comfortable for meetings as well as general tasks.

Good lighting, a comfortable chair, practical background accents like bookcases or shelves and work-appropriate decor make your home office look professional.
Good lighting, a comfortable chair, practical background accents like bookcases or shelves and work-appropriate decor make your home office look professional.

Video Call Background Colors

Depending on your type of work, you might want to choose a particular color palette to complement the job you have or want. Different hues convey different moods and messages. Consider the following video call background ideas when searching for the perfect color:

  • Neutral Call Backgrounds: Creating a neutral setting to conduct business makes you look professional whether you’re in a meeting with your coworkers or interviewing for a new job. A neutral wall can also help your video quality stay sharp and clear when using a virtual background. Try decorating with gray or beige for a sophisticated home office look.
  • Cozy Earth Tones: You can also incorporate earth tones into your palette since they look professional and complement most color schemes. A soft brown or moss green wall with an orange chair or sofa and gold end tables looks both modern and cozy, giving welcoming vibes to your virtual colleagues.
  • Calming Cool Hues: From the visually pleasing contrast of navy blue and white decor to soothing teal and sky blue walls, cool colors have a unique effect on your meetings. These calming hues can help ease your mind about interviews and meetings, and you’ll still look great on camera.
  • Bold Artistic Tones: For artists and other creatives, consider a bold palette that shows off your personality. Jewel tones like deep purple, jade and sapphire have a stately aesthetic that works well for managers and team leads. Keep in mind that too many vivid hues in one space can be a distraction, so choose your palette and accents carefully.
Cool gray office furniture and chill color palettes set a relaxing tone for video conferences.
Cool gray office furniture and chill color palettes set a relaxing tone for video conferences.

Comfortable and Practical Furniture for Virtual Meetings

What your interviewer or coworkers see on camera matters, but how comfortable you feel in your office also contributes to the success of a video call. Certain types of home office furniture help you maintain good posture and stay organized. Design a cozy and collected atmosphere while working from home by furnishing your office with:

  • Sofas and Loveseats: Having a plush couch to relax on as you work can reduce stress. Leather sofas have a sleek, professional look suitable for office spaces, and you can sit in various positions and arrange toss pillows or throws for comfort. A leather loveseat or an armchair may be a better fit if your home office is small or you work in your own studio.
  • Desks: Make sure you have the right home office desk for your height and reach. Adjustable tabletops ensure proper posture while seated, and standing desks let you stretch your legs and stay more active as you complete tasks. Storage desks with drawers and shelves also keep notebooks and materials handy if you need to take minutes during the meeting.
  • Adjustable Office Chair: Investing in an office chair with the right comfort features helps ensure you have plenty of support for long conference calls. Adjustable chairs let you choose your optimal seat height regardless of whether you’re at a desk, dining table or living room sofa table.
  • Filing Cabinets: Keeping important files and notes close is essential during a video conference call. Spacious filing cabinets store and organize everything you need for meetings and conveniently keep supplies and notes close at hand.
  • Nesting Tables: Moving around the house and switching up your work setting keeps you mobile, but video conferences can put you at a standstill. As long as the video call backdrop looks professional, use nesting modern end tables in various table heights to join a meeting from the couch or relax on a floor cushion for casual video calls with family.
Filing cabinets, shelves and other storage furniture keep your office clutter-free and professional.
Filing cabinets, shelves and other storage furniture keep your office clutter-free and professional.

Work-Appropriate Decor

You may think a plain video conferencing background is best, but a decorated wall is perfectly okay, too. Luckily, there are a variety of wall decor options at your disposal. How you choose to decorate your home office can relate to both your work and personality. While on video calls, fewer distractions are better since your boss, clients or colleagues should be focusing on you.

For a little inspiration on background and decor, try adopting the principles of minimalist Scandinavian style where less is more. Play around with the layout to help you judge how your decor reads on camera. This approach allows you to rearrange, remove or add pieces as needed. It’s always a good idea to take several practice pictures before going live.

You should also make sure that your home office background is free of any artwork or posters that people might find unprofessional. Use a critical eye as you assess your wall art or virtual background and consider changing or relocating anything that your employer or coworkers might find inappropriate. With the right decor, you can cultivate a balanced look using:

  • Wall Art: From traditional photos with rich wood frames to simple yet elegant contemporary paintings, wall art says a lot about your style. Display a large piece above your chair for a stunning focal point, or arrange a gallery of smaller prints to keep your space in harmony.
  • Plants: Real or artificial, a couple of house plants in the background of your call lends your space a clean and neutral look. Plus, decorating your home office with vibrant greenery like potted ferns, succulents and flowering plants can boost your mood during the work day.
  • Shelves & Bookcases: Want to display your well-earned diploma or show off your collection of books? Having a bookshelf behind you in a conference call is the ultimate professional move. Rich wood bookcases have a traditional feel, while white and black shelves blend well with modern and minimalist themes.
  • Throws & Accent Pillows: If your office ever feels chilly, a cozy throw kept draped over your legs and out of view of the camera is a smart fix. Accent pillows are also great for additional lumbar support, keeping your back straight during the call. Toss a few on your sofa for some personal flair, too.
  • Rugs: Working from home doesn’t always mean wearing office attire. Like to stay in your socks or keep your feet bare? A fluffy area rug that complements your color scheme also warms your feet beneath your desk. Your virtual coworkers are unlikely to see the rug or your bare feet regardless.
Wall art like paintings and prints should complement the style of your space and often make for interesting conversation starters.

Good Virtual Meeting Etiquette

Some of the choices you make when decorating, furnishing or prepping your home office for virtual conferences require you to consider proper virtual meeting etiquette. By removing auditory or visual distractions, you and your coworkers can politely conduct meetings and remain efficient.

Reflective Surfaces

When setting up your video chat background, make sure the shot is free of any reflective surfaces such as mirrors or shiny wall decor, especially if you’re using special lighting. Instead, fill the space with canvas art or decorative accents with matte finishes, which can be a fun alternative to paintings mounted behind glass or plastic.

Distractions

With the proper fixes to your sound, you can eliminate auditory issues easily. It’s a good idea to set up in a quiet area of the house to prevent interruptions and close your office door and windows. Decluttering your home office can also improve focus. Remove any objects from your desk that may distract you, including your phone.

A small or medium decorative mirror near your desk lets you check your hair, makeup and clothes and make touchups before a meeting. However, avoid staring at yourself in a mirror during a call as you’ll seem unfocused or distant to others. Pets can also be a distraction, so be sure to give your dog or cat a pet bed so they can rest quietly and stay occupied with their favorite toys while you work.

Using a cozy pet bed, you can have a dedicated space for your furry friend to nap, play and eat while you join a conference call.
Using a cozy pet bed, you can have a dedicated space for your furry friend to nap, play and eat while you join a conference call.