During this unprecedented time the home office is now virtually open to the public. In the days prior to COVID-19 if you worked remotely, pretty much all you needed was a desk, an ergonomic chair, a scanner/printer and a computer. Most business was conducted via email and phone from home offices that featured wall facing desks sporting inspirational quotes, family photos and mood boards. Post COVID-19 a new normal in social interaction has emerged. Under “Stay healthy at home” directives, we are craving face-to-face interactions more than ever and video-based communication has quickly filled that void both personally and professionally.
Professionally, first impressions speak volumes. Afterall, you want to put your best foot forward when you connect with clients, colleagues as well as your boss. Your personalized work environment is on display and can be a key factor in relationship building. We are all getting used to the barking dogs, the delivery doorbells, the children and partners in the background. We don’t have much control over those homey sounds which can be distracting but also humanizes and unites us. However, we do have control over what people see and want the control those images from as many distractions as possible. Home-based professionals are in the majority now, being paid to work from home. It’s now more important that the new virtual home office dwellers look like they put some effort into their workspaces and convey productivity.
Neuroscience tells us that we remember what we see better than what we hear. As a result, there is a growing need for a well-designed professional space that invites your colleagues into your home. Professionals can design a space that’s personalized to a unique aesthetic and inspires productivity, like some of these celebrities, but you can take any space and create your professional e-persona.
You don’t have to be a celebrity but taking simple cues from professional interior and set designers and implementing them distinguishes you from an amateur. In this home office, the view presents a disorganized worker leaving the impression that this person doesn’t focus on her business. Other than the obvious sloppiness, a stationary bicycle and a messy stack of papers, poor lighting, saggy clothing and photographic quality says that she hasn’t paid attention to the image that she is presenting.
Even some of the pros in the business could use some simple design pointers. In this case it is as easy as turning the lamp on behind Kelly to soften the all-white look and having her move backward from the camera to minimize the shine on her upper face. Moving Ryan’s placement to the left, out of sight of the glaring reflection on the stainless-steel backsplash and halo effect lighting, would make for a less distracting overall impression.
Some Zoomers are resorting to pasting false background images from famous TV sets, for others it is “green-screened” graphics with logos and branding images. However, the most engaging images are those that let us into other people’s worlds and provides us with a common “healthy at home” comradery.
Based on techniques from interior design and basic video production, your new home office can be designed to invite your colleagues into your home, encourage productivity and simultaneously present a polished professional image. Here are some tips from the pros.
In a space designed for on-camera conversations, the desk is facing away from the wall. So, what are good options to have in the background? Built-in cabinetry is a compelling focal point. The legal community often utilizes bookcases as a backdrop that says, “I’m knowledgeable”. In this example, the desk has plenty of surface space, three sources of lighting and visually offers contrast, attractive props and texture as well.
Use a spare bedroom, closet, basement or even a corner of a room or wall. By setting up a home office or a workspace that’s away from the area of your house that you use frequently outside of work, you’ll properly divide your home and work life. This is a great example of a corner home office in a rarely used formal living room.
If you have a dark spot behind you, use an underlight on a wall below the camera frame to brighten things up. The key is to minimize shadows. You also don’t want too much light on one side. If this is unavoidable due to a window, use a soft fill light on the other side to blend the effect. A shaded table or floor lamp works fine.
Home office design is evolving at light speed. Some questions to consider are:
During this time, as in your previous professional environment, you’re going to want to look and sound your best and after setting up your virtual home office. But before you debut, by all means…do a dress rehearsal.
After spending many hours in your home recently, you have likely noticed ways that your home can function more efficiently and better exhibit your personal sense of style. Your virtual home office is just one of many design opportunities. For example, families need to redesign spaces with children homeschooling. They are realizing they need a dedicated play space and their kitchen may not be conducive to cooking family meals.
Do you have an element of your home you’d like to redesign after the crisis has passed? By nature, designers are visual thinkers. Keidel has designers on staff that can work with you on your vision. We are now offering virtual consultations and digital walk-throughs. Also, we would like to extend a digital invitation to get the conversation started with you. We begin with a 30-minute consultation to discuss your project and what you want to accomplish. A quick visual e-tour of the area is a great way to help us visualize your area.
Just fill out our contact form to set up an initial consultation. We are offering a complimentary design review of your virtual home office. Send us a screen shot to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be pleased to provide complimentary suggestions for enhancing your in-home office set design.
Liz Hanley is the Showroom Manager at Keidel Supply in Cincinnati, Ohio who specializes in Interior Design and holds an M.A. in Broadcast Media Studies and Communications from Northwestern University.