WFH Video Conferencing Best Practices Header

When you work from home, it's easy to jettison some of the formalities associated with going into the office. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Who says you can't get as much work done with your feet up?

Still, it's important not to get too comfortable when working from home, especially where video conferencing is concerned. Certain rules of etiquette and other practices should be maintained to ensure productivity and professionalism.

If you're new to working from home or if you feel like you may have let some things slide in your approach to video conferencing, here are some best practices for you to consider.

1. Wear Office-Appropriate Attire

    When you dress professionally for video calls, you communicate your respect for everyone else on the call. This doesn't mean that you need to be formally attired from head to toe — just put some thought into everything visible on-camera.

    Choose a Well-Fitting Top

    Most video calls show you from the waist up, so choose a professional-looking top. Something fitted rather than slouchy is always a good bet because it looks more polished. Plus, it offers the extra benefit of encouraging you to sit up straighter and be more actively engaged.

    Wear Solid Colors

    Bold, rich colors stand out better on the small piece of screen that will be your video conference territory but avoid busy patterns or shimmery fabrics, both of which can be distracting. Solid colors are best.

    Check Your Face and Hair

    Are you ready for your close-up?

    Video calls focus on your face, so be confident that you look like you're ready for people to see you. If you usually shave, lose the five o'clock shadow. If you'd wear makeup for a critical meeting or job interview, then put some on for a video call. This will make you look and feel more put-together.

    2. Choose a Professional Background

      Even if you're hopping on a routine team meeting, try to make your surroundings look as professional as possible. Find a place in your home where you can choose exactly what people see behind you.

      Your best bet is to be no more than eight to 10 feet from a wall. When you have too much background space, people often find themselves distracted by your interiors, especially when there might be other household members or pets wandering around the room.

      Shelves are acceptable in the background as long as they're not cluttered. Bookshelves can make incredible backgrounds if they look neat and aren't over-stuffed.

      If you have a flat wall behind you, hang a few pieces of understated art. Avoid personal photos and opt for something you might see in a catalog or at your dentist's office. It doesn't have to be informal and overly corporate, but it should be simple enough that it won't distract.

      Try to avoid digital video conferencing backgrounds unless you cannot find an appropriate space in your home. If you do need a virtual background, choose something neutral like a natural landscape.

      3. Light Yourself Well

        Lighting is vital whether you have a virtual or real-life background. With a virtual background, poor lighting can cause you to blur into the backdrop. No matter how professional your background is, it will be distracting if your elbow or shoulder keeps appearing and disappearing.

        Good lighting also makes a real-life setup look more polished, and it significantly impacts how you look on camera. It helps you appear healthy, alert, and ready for action, whereas lousy lighting can make you look tired or washed out.

        For the best results, place your light source in front of you. Natural light is less harsh than artificial, so face a window if you can. Otherwise, put an LED bulb into a desk or floor lamp and set it up in front of your workstation. Make sure the lamp has a shade to prevent glare.

        Experts say that you'll get the best light when you aim the lamp at the wall in front of you. This lights you directly instead of from above, which averts shadowing and softens the light, so it's not too harsh.

        Finally, whatever you do, avoid backlighting or glaring overhead lights. These will cast you in shadow and make you harder to see.

        4. Avoid Noisy Settings

          A home always seems quieter when you're not trying to have a video meeting. Then you sign on, and suddenly, you can hear all of the household sounds you didn't notice before.

          Someone starts washing dishes, the dog starts barking, or the kids start arguing. These are all normal and understandable, but they're still interruptions.

          You can't silence your household — even if you live alone, there are still neighborhood noises — but you can make things a little bit quieter. Move away from fans, space heaters, and air conditioning units if possible.

          It also helps to add fabric to your space. Put a rug on the floor or hang curtains in your window. It's okay if you have to keep them open for light — any fabric will help absorb sound. Some people like to hang a blanket or tapestry on the wall, and nice ones can pull double-duty as attractive call backgrounds.

          Finally, try to keep other household members and pets out of the room during your video call. If you have an open space and can't isolate yourself, consider investing in a noise-reducing or noise-canceling headset with a microphone.

          5. Don't Multitask on Camera

            When video conferencing from home, it's easy to get distracted by other things when you're supposed to be paying attention to the call.

            It's so tempting, in fact, that 99% of people multitask in video meetings, according to a recent survey by leadership communications company Ginger.

            Of course, even if you can hear and process everything that's going on, it's still distracting and disrespectful if people on the call can notice you checking your phone or feeding your dog while someone else is talking. Appearances matter. It's important to be visibly attentive.

            Help yourself focus by reducing and eliminating the distractions around you.

            Clear your workspace and put your phone away so that you won't be tempted to pick it up and start scrolling. Your phone may not be visible on camera, but it's easy to tell when someone on a video call is looking at a phone that's out of frame.

            Clear your virtual desktop, too.

            Close or minimize all windows and tabs that aren't related to the meeting's topic. You'll be less tempted to look at them during the meeting if they're not right in front of you. Plus, if irrelevant material isn't visible, it won't show up if someone asks you to screen share.

            6. Choose the Right Video Conferencing Software and Hardware

              You won't always be able to customize your video conferencing set up the way you want, but there's typically something you can do to make things function a little bit better.

              What To Look for in a Software Solution

              If you have any say in what video conferencing software you use, start there. Look for a solution with high-definition video technology, quality sound, and robust screen sharing functionality.

              Better interactivity makes for a more productive meeting, so ensure that your software's screen sharing provides you with:

              • 1. A choice of which screen, window, tab, or document you want to share
              • 2. Screen sharing control for multiple participants
              • 3. High image quality

              Also, look for advanced features that not every video conferencing solution will offer. One example is voice intelligence and call analytics, highlighting important moments and action items from your call for later reference. Having these extra features can save you a lot of time going forward.

              Optimizing Your Hardware

              Even if you don't have the power to choose your software, you can optimize your home setup so that your video and audio quality is as good as they can be. Consider investing in an external webcam. Even lower-end options will usually give you better video than your built-in laptop camera.

              An external USB mic or one built into a professional-level headset will most likely improve your sound. You may also decide to take it to the next level and get a lavalier (lab) mic, which pins to your shirt and attaches to a transmitter via a cord.

              Make sure that your internet connection is fast and reliable. An Ethernet connection may feel like yesterday's tech, but it will keep your video call going strong even if something happens to your WiFi.

              If you use WiFi, sit as close to the router as possible and minimize drain from other sources. Close the programs you won't use during the call and ask household members not to stream video content until you're done.


              Wow the Conference Call

              Whether it's a one-on-one call or a large team meeting, being professional and productive can help you to stand out at work.

              Choose quality remote work tools like Dialpad's UberConference and set up a space that you're proud to show the world. Dress to impress and stay focused.

              Apply these work from home video conferencing best practices, and you'll be sure to make a great impression, all from the comfort of your personal space.

              Dialpad's video conferencing software allows you to host productive meetings and collaborate from anywhere.

              Learn more here!