Whether you are self-employed, a telecommuter or lucky enough to run your own business from the comfort of a home office; sometimes you just need time away from your desk. A change of scenery is always a good idea, especially if you are undertaking tasks that are a little out of the ordinary and this is especially the case when you have something like a video conference coming up.
Communication is part and parcel of the business world, and communication of the digital kind is the backbone of 21st century life. Email, instant messaging and video conferencing are all instrumental to helping businesses operate smoothly and efficiently on a day to day basis. Technological developments have also resulted in an myriad of state of the art hardware and software, created specifically to make digital communication easier, quicker and hassle-free.
Video conferencing in a professional capacity isn’t as straightforward as logging in and chatting away though; you have to ensure that your connection is reliable, that the audio/visual quality is superb and that your background creates a good impression and a sense of professionalism.
Now, the connection and audio/visual quality are technical elements that can be perfected; providing you give yourself enough time to plan, test and adjust. The suitability of the setting though depends on the venue you are in to begin with. A proper desk in your home office will, naturally, be your first choice, but you cannot always guarantee where you will end up doing business. This poses a problem because not all locations are created equal, and some are entirely inappropriate for professional video conferencing – even if you are a home-based business.
For more on appropriate spaces for video conferences, and what pitfalls to watch out for, read our suggestions below.
A Cosy Café
Cafes can be rowdy, especially during peak times (mid-morning through to just past lunchtime). However, finding a hidden treasure of a coffee shop with a reliable Wi-Fi connection can provide you with a superb new space for video conferencing. Just make sure you find a quiet corner where you won’t be disturbed, and make sure you're set against a wall so the person on the other end isn’t distracted by the activity in the background.
A Clutter-Free Kitchen
Sometimes, if you need a change of scenery, setting up at the kitchen table or breakfast bar is a practical option; you have everything you need within reaching distance, from coffee and biscuits to a quick sandwich and fresh air. If a client or colleague is likely to be video chatting with you, you will need to depersonalise the part of the kitchen they are likely to see through the webcam. De-clutter the countertops, take down the children’s drawings and make the space appear as neat, tidy and as clean as possible; that way, you will strike a good balance between “home-based business” and “polished professional”.
A Well Designed Dining Room
If you are lacking a home office or desk, for whatever reason, you need to find an alternative workspace. The dining room table is a great option because it affords plenty of space for documents, a laptop and just about anything else you might need to do business. It also gives you an ergonomic and separate space in which to hold video conferences. Just make sure you keep a relatively empty wall behind you and keep any personal effects or photographs out of view of the camera. It may not be as structured as a home office, but it is the next best thing when it comes to video conferencing from home.
Of course, you can’t always control where you are when the needs of the business require you to get in touch with a client or colleague. You could find yourself in a gaudily decorated hotel room or a noisy train carriage, but if you aim to keep your settings professional for the most part, you will feel better for it, and those you talk to will feel more confident in your abilities.
So if you absolutely cannot set up shop at your perfectly planned out home office desk, take time to consider your options and choose the one that will show you (and your business) in the very best light.