The home office was not invented during the era of ”The Brady Bunch” or “Mad Men.” In fact, it’s been around for three centuries. Hanna Manson tells us in an article in Hubble, “Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, dedicated office spaces would fall by the wayside until the 18th century. Most ‘office’ work was carried out at home.” But that waned; architect David Hart of Steinburg Hart told a Bloomberg reporter that “Pre-Covid-19, only 10% to 15% percent of the apartment units his firm was building had some type of dedicated office space. Going forward, he says, he expects that figure will be more like 75%.” That’s because even if we don’t all continue to WFH full-time, WFH will likely be something we do at least part of the time.
In the 1990s, there used to be five basic necessities for a home office: your computer, a desk, a chair, a phone and maybe a printer/scanner. And that sufficed for the next twenty-five years. But it’s no longer enough as you seek to stay connected and make your mark while you’re WFH. Today’s home office requires some additional items so you can use those online meetings as a way to stand out and build your personal brand.
1. Green screen. This simple tool makes video meetings easier. That’s because you don’t need to worry about the clutter on the bookshelf behind you. And, you can customize your backdrop to make it relevant and interesting for every meeting you lead or attend. There are portable green screens that fold up and others that attach to the back of your chair, so don’t worry about it taking up space or creating even more clutter.
2. Mic. Your laptop mic comes with one major problem. It doesn’t discern between your voice and the other sounds in your office. That limits your ability to come across with a clear, crisp, confident message. It can also bring in unwanted interruptions like the dog barking in the next room or the fire engine passing outside your window. A small investment in earbuds or another directional mic will make sure people hear you without distraction.
3. Lights. You’re in luck if your home office is laid out so you’re facing a window when you’re sitting at your desk. That light coming directly at you will help you look your best on video. But it won’t help you on cloudy day or when you have an early evening meeting. Unless you’re living in Yuma, AZ (one of the sunniest places on earth), you’ll want to invest in some high-quality lighting. Skip the ring light (that’s so 2020) and go for LED panel lights like these. This way, you won’t have weird glowing orbs reflected in your eyes or glasses, and you’ll know that you’ll always be seen in the most positive light.
4. DND sign. Interruptions were tolerated and almost charming in the early days of the Covid- inspired WFH mandate. 43 million of us have seen the video of the kid who interrupted her father’s TV appearance. But the trial period is over. Now, it’s important that you show up as the brilliant professional you are and that you keep appearances from offspring or pets at bay. And all it takes is a little planning and a do not disturb sign. When you’re meeting with your close-knit team, maybe the interruptions are a welcome diversion and contribute to the fun, informal atmosphere. But when you’re meeting with a client or making a pitch to your boss, the DND sign will ensure you can stay focused on your goal.
Now that WFH means WOV (work on video), your home office needs an upgrade. It needs to double as your video studio for both synchronous and asynchronous videos, broadcasting your brand to a full gamut of audiences. These four essential items all stem from the fact that the future of work is video, so make sure your home office is up to date—Mike Brady’s “study” is now a studio.
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