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How to Make Your Office Zoom-Friendly On A Budget

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Historically, markers of your office etiquette included your wardrobe and the relative tidiness of your desk. These things were manageable and required little effort to keep up.

Now, however, there are a number of other factors you must manage in order to be professional and presentable while working from home.

Your Zoom background is one of the most important. Having a pile of dirty laundry and empty potato chip bags in the background when you’re in an important meeting is not the kind of conduct that reflects well on you or your company.

This guide will walk you through how to set up a home office that translates best on Zoom. And, by using OfficeSupply.com coupons and some of the saving tips outlined below, your new space can be as affordable as it is fashionable.

Keep reading to learn more or jump to the printable “Do Not Disturb” meeting sign or our infographic that breaks down the anatomy of a model Zoom set-up.

Pick the Location

Location, location, location. It matters. And in the case of picking where to take your Zoom calls, it matters a lot.

Unwelcomed interruptions, background noises and other frustrating distractions are all controllable. If you’re thoughtful about your location, then the things that make virtual meetings fail (like glitchy Wi-Fi) can be avoided. Here are some considerations when picking a location:

Get close to the Wi-Fi. A strong internet connection is the most obvious thing for successful virtual work, but it’s also one of the things that most people miss. Wi-Fi is like oxygen for Zoom. Still, many people deprive Zoom by setting up their computers far away from their Internet router. Locate your Internet router and find a place in that room to set up for your Zoom meeting.

Set up boundaries. Undisturbed space might be hard to come by during the lockdown, but it’s important for Zoom meetings. Privacy is essential for focused work. However, if you can’t get a full room to yourself, print out these “In A Meeting” cards to signal to your housemates that you need space. The most important thing to avoid here is your housemate lingering in their pajamas (or worse, pantless) during a professional meeting.

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Make sure there’s enough room. In theory, you only need yourself and a computer for a virtual meeting. However, if that was the case, you could do a Zoom meeting from your closet (not ideal). Instead, make sure you have enough room to stretch your arms and legs during the workday.

By moving closer to your Internet source, setting boundaries for your meeting space and having enough room, you’ve set the foundation for what will become a great Zoom meeting space.

Savings Tip: If you can’t get the full room for yourself, think about creative ways to get privacy before making big investments like buying headphones or a screen divider.

Arrange Your Space

Careful arranging is not only key for aesthetics, but it’s also a crucial element influencing the energy your room produces. In fact, Laura Cerraro of Feng Shui Manhattan has gone as far as saying that the placement of your immediate environment is “a metaphor for everything in life.”

You don’t want your life’s metaphor to be a pile of unsorted books in a random chair. Instead, you can derive energy from the arrangement of your room by harnessing the power of placement. When thinking about designing your home office, start with these arrangement tips:

Less is more. A messy work area can be distracting and take away from your productivity, not to mention divert the attention of people in your Zoom meeting. Harvard researchers found that those with a neat workspace were able to perform a challenging task for 1.5 times longer than those in a messy environment. Simplify your office space to inspire an uninterrupted flow.

Feng Shui your furniture. Feng Shui, which translates to “wind and water,” is the Taoist art of placement. It’s a way of placing things to absorb Chi, the energy of the universe. There are certain arrangements that build Chi and others that obstruct it. Feng Shui is the art of optimally arranging your space to capture the most Chi.

Juxtapose contrasting objects. Juxtaposing in interior design means placing two different objects side by side. You may think two contrasting elements would cause those items to clash, but as it turns out, combining contrasting elements actually brings out the key qualities in each object. Juxtaposing objects also add visual balance and harmony to your room. Putting a circular bowl next to a vertical lamp, for example, adds an interesting visual.

Savings Tip: Save on buying new furniture by thinking about unique ways you can position your current items. Go for a minimalist style, arrange according to Feng Shui principles or contrast objects to vary old things before buying new ones.

Get the Lighting Right

The lighting of your home office is important to set the desired mood, focus attention and complete any tasks. You not only want to consider the lighting of your room, but also how that lighting will be picked up on the camera. Here are three of the best ways to light your Zoom scene:

Position your computer in natural lighting. Access to natural light and views of the outdoors were reported as the top attributes of the workplace environment, according to Harvard Business Review. So, set up by a window. Pay attention to your background, however, because if you’re facing a window, it likely means that your whole room will be exposed in the background.

Use a ring light. If you can’t position yourself near a window, invest in a ring light. It will give the same effect a vanity mirror does. It’s a focused, intense light that’ll highlight your silhouette. Ring lights are used for taking better selfies or shooting well-lit TikToks, so they translate well on digital devices. (Editor’s tip: Looking to get a ring light, but afraid it’ll cost a lot? Check out these Amazon discounts.)

Set up a lamp. There are a couple of benefits to using a lamp. They are adjustable, quick to turn off and they contribute to the overall aesthetic. The main thing to avoid here is not positioning your lamp directly behind you. Backlighting will drown any details in your face. Make sure you put your lamp either a couple of feet away in the background as a decorative piece or right in front of your computer to spotlight your facade. (Editor’s tip: Lamps can be expensive depending on what you’re looking for. So, use these Bed, Bath & Beyond deals to save.)

Savings Tip: You don’t need a fancy lamp to light up your home office. Natural lighting is not only free, but it also translates the best on a video camera.

Decorate Your Background

Location, check. Arrangement, check. Lighting, check. Now it’s time to give your peers a peek into your personality by adding decor. Pretend you’re inviting colleagues into your house when thinking through this display. Be intentional about putting decor in your Zoom scene to balance things out. Too much is distracting clutter and too little is suspiciously empty. Here are some things to consider when decorating:

Put art on your wall. Color has an enormous effect on mood. Use your walls as a chance to add a pop of your favorite color to introduce some energy into your space. See the infographic below to learn which colors evoke what moods. (Editor’s tip: Looking to buy an interesting art piece, but don’t want to spend a fortune? You can save on wall decor with these Society Six coupons!)

Showcase your books, even if you haven’t read each one front to back. A well-curated bookshelf is insightful to your interests, attitudes and personality. You can tell a lot about a person based on their favorite author. Since this bookshelf will be on display to co-workers, consider selecting books by your industry thought leaders.

Add some plants. Adding plants to the office can cause a 37% decrease in reported tension and anxiety, according to New University of Technology in Sydney. So, test your green thumb and start a collection of desk plants. (Editor’s tip: Want to get a plant for your at-home desk? You can save on greenery by using these Plants.com coupons.)

Savings Tip: First and foremost, declutter your space. You don’t necessarily need to buy decor elements, it might come down to simply organizing the things you already have.

Tips to Save on Your Zoom Set-Up

Make a plan. This one is already done for you with this guide. Before buying art from Etsy or investing in a fancy swivel chair, think about the space you want to create. Try sketching your vision for the office, paying particular attention to the areas that will be shown on Zoom. Having a plan will help you avoid any unnecessary purchases.

The simpler the better. Never forget the power of minimalism. Instead of focusing on things to buy, pick out one or two accent pieces you already own and concentrate on strategic positioning.

DIY for wall decor. All you need is a pen and paper, and a little bit of creativity. Write your favorite quote, a personal mantra or try your hand at drawing a landscape. Whatever your artistic vision is, save on wall decor by trying to do it yourself first.

Next time you click that “Join Meeting” button on Zoom, you can be proud of what you see on the computer camera — a newly renovated home office specifically designed for your new virtual normal.

If you’re looking to renovate other parts of your house and apartment aside from just your Zoom meeting space, save on furniture using these Wayfair coupon codes and remember that minimalism goes a long way!

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We hope that you found this blog helpful. Our content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide business, legal, tax, or financial advice. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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Sources: The Spruce | The Effects of Color on the Mood of College Students | Harvard Business Review: Why Messy Workplace Undermines Persistence | Harvard Business Review: The #1 Office Perk? | My Move | American Society of Interior Designers Foundation | Business of Apps | Healthline | New University of Technology Sydney Gensler Insights | World Green Building Council | New University of Technology Sydney | Harvard Business Review | My Move | The Spruce