With more companies shifting to a work-from-home model, an effective home office setup is a must. As the use of online conferences grows, so too does the need for appropriate home office backgrounds. If you're one of the many remote workers out there, check out these tips and ideas to help you create a polished and professional backdrop for video calls.

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Choose a Neutral Background

Creating a neutral setting to conduct business is important whether you're working for a company or interviewing for a new job. While it may seem obvious to have a professional, presentable area, just like wearing the proper outfit at work, having the right backdrop for video calls can make or break a first impression.

If you need a little inspiration for your background and decor, adopting the principles of minimalist Scandinavian style is a good place to start. When decorating your space, a neutral-colored wall can prevent issues with the video quality. You can also incorporate earth tones, as they look professional and complement most color schemes.

You should also make sure that your home office background is free of any artwork or posters that people might find offensive or unprofessional. Use a critical eye as you assess your wall art and consider relocating anything that your employer or coworkers could find inappropriate.

Use Decorative Accents

You may think a plain video conferencing background is best, but having a decorated wall is perfectly okay, too. Luckily, there are a variety of wall decor options at your disposal, so you can mix, match and experiment. If you want to make the layout feel personal, consider adding a few framed family portraits and snapshots.

Before jumping on and making your first call, play around with the layout. This can help you judge how your decor reads on camera, allowing you to rearrange, remove or add as needed. It's always a good idea to take several practice videos or pictures before going live.

Invest in Good Lighting

The right lighting can make a big difference on a video call. If your room is too dark, people will have trouble seeing you. However, if you have too much light, you can appear washed out, which is unflattering. If possible, try using natural light to your advantage by sitting facing a window.

Otherwise, invest in some good, high-quality light fixtures. Strategically placing a couple of floor lamps around the room can create a studio effect and will help provide balanced lighting. You can also look into getting small ring lights that clamp onto the back or sides of your desk for an easy, adjustable option.

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Ensure Proper Sound

Proper sound is an essential part of the home video conference experience. If you're too quiet, your listeners may struggle to hear you, but too loud, and your voice could be distorted or distracting. Before having an interview or meeting, double-check to make sure that your volume works properly.

When running tests beforehand, if you're experiencing echoing, there are a couple of things that you can do to address it. One easy fix is to place a few area rugs around the room to absorb sound. If you're still having problems, try troubleshooting your equipment to check for any technical issues.

Avoid 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 some canvas art or 3D decorative accents with matte finishes, which can be a fun alternative to traditional paintings.

Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Decluttering a home office can make a big difference on your ability to focus. It's a good idea to setup in a quiet area of the house to prevent interruptions. It's also a good idea to remove any objects from your desk that may distract you. Wall decor that will be within the frame should be simple and understated.

If you're unsure how or where to start when it comes to removing distractions, adopting a minimalist lifestyle can help. This way of thinking teaches you to focus on the essentials. In following this approach, you can get rid of things around your office that may divert your attention when you're on a call.

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Importance of Professional Backgrounds

When working remotely, having a professional background is just as noticeable as wearing the proper attire in a business setting. This is one of the first things that a potential employer, colleague or boss will notice. Take these points into consideration as you design your own video conferencing background.

It Showcases Your Personality

We often think of clothing as being the number one thing that conveys our unique personalities. But, when working from home, what's behind you can also make the first impression. Always keep your setting neat and organized to show the other person that you are taking this seriously.

It's also important to carefully consider the message you're trying to send. If you're showing a boss or coworker that you are family-oriented, have a few pictures of your loved ones in home office background. For those who want to showcase their artistic interests, you might consider hanging up a few pieces of your own work.

Video Conferences Are Growing

With technology growing and changing, so is the popularity of using video conferencing. Keeping this in mind, choose a setting that you can consistently use when an impromptu meeting or conference comes up. Having a clean and professional space makes the process easier and less stressful.

Visual Impressions Matter

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. This is especially true 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.

This goes for your video chat background, too. All of the above factors play into how colleagues or potential employers might view you. Anything from a sink full of dirty dishes to a controversial piece of art could be off-putting to an interviewer or supervisor, ultimately hurting your career prospects.

Setting up Your Professional Background

You should always remember to treat your own professional space like you're at a place of business. Keep your home office background clean, welcoming and visually appealing. Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to conducting professional video calls that leave a good impression.