How to maintain the professional atmosphere of the office while working from home? And does your background affect how people perceive you during a video call?
The Signs team surveyed 1,507 people who participate in video calls for work on a monthly basis, or more frequently. The aim was to understand the context of video calls and their behavior. The survey features two models in front of six different backgrounds depicting plants, artwork, a bookcase, a window, candles, or a blank wall.
The survey showed that these tested sets contributed, each in their own way, to returning a better image of the person filmed, sometimes making them appear smarter, more reliable, more accessible or more professional. However, models posing in front of a shelf full of books were found to be less accessible than those in front of a white wall.
Rather green plants or a library?
Respondents rate the people who appeared the most intelligent (4.07), trustworthy (3.92), and approachable (3.89) were those sitting in front of plants during a video call. Those whose background is a library will pass for more professional (3.75), but on the other hand appear less accessible (3.67), according to the study.
In addition, professionals placed in front of a decor of candles will more easily inspire confidence and pass for more accessible (3.82) than teleworkers who have opted for a white wall as a background. On the other hand, the candles are double-edged, and may give a less professional image than the other backgrounds mentioned above.
Two in five respondents say they stage their background before a video conference call in the workplace. Three in four would adjust the lighting and nearly two-thirds of respondents say they clean or tidy up their work environment. Only one in three would move to a more aesthetic place for the call.
Focus on natural light
Almost half of those surveyed say they try to take their calls near a window or in a room full of natural light. Surprisingly, 41% of them choose an empty wall in the background, although this background scored the lowest among the four desirable characteristics for video calls.
To improve video conference calling experiences, most participants cite natural light or windows as improving their impression of someone during a video call. Regardless of the negative effect that shelves might have, 14% of participants said they improve their opinion of the person.
So is there an ideal wallpaper for video calling? Hiding your background with a virtual image can be the solution if you can’t really find a suitable location for your meeting. Or, you pretend to be low on bandwidth and cut your video feed for calls where you really can’t get out of bed.