10 Easy Ways to Turn Working from Home Office Challenges Into an Opportunity to Stand Out.
Posted: September 22, 2020
How you are perceived on your video conference becomes the new “you” at the office.
Just because where we work is now a lot closer to where we lounge, doesn’t mean we don’t still need to be office-ready. Whether you’re in a leadership role or working your way up, how you present yourself says a lot about your work ethic, productiveness and ultimately your potential. While some of your colleagues are taking this time to get comfortable and “get by,” why not turn this time when you are working from home into an easy opportunity to stand out? Now that the honeymoon period of working from home is over, and we all begin to adjust our “new normal,” the time for forgivable WFH learning curves is over. How you are perceived over your video conference becomes the new “you” at the office. So we’ve compiled a quick “how-to” with the best tips to make sure you look and feel your best, and stand out at the (new) office.
Dress the Part
1. Keep It Business Casual Cozy.
While your boss may not mind your new relaxed dress code, there is a lot to be said for maintaining your normal in-office look. Foregoing the pajama bottoms for your pre-COVID work wear often helps to switch your head space into work mode.
If you can’t see yourself in slacks while you office from the sofa all day, a stylish jogger pant in a synthetic fabrication can easily elevate your lounge look from “lazy” to “luxe.”
2. Avoid Patterns
Avoid patterns such as stripes and plaids. Intricate or busy patterns are not picked up well by most cameras and can leave you looking like an optical illusion. Unless your goal is to become the next David Blaine, stick with solid or bold colors.
3. Minimize Accessories
Avoid jewelry such as metal watches that create noise when dangled on the desk or throw distracting reflections on the wall.
4. Utilize Natural Lighting
When it comes to being in front of the webcam, lighting is everything. Overhead lighting can cause unflattering shadows and add years to your appearance. Avoid fluorescent lights and try facing a window to make the most of natural light whenever possible. Natural lighting is an easy way to add warmth, clarity and energy to our appearance. If your work space is lacking windows, try setting up a desk lamp behind your camera to keep your shot well exposed.
Invest in a small, dimmable LED light attachment for your laptop. Having the perfect lighting every time can set you apart from your coworkers as they constantly work through their virtual meeting challenges.
5. Optimize Camera Placement
Keep your camera at eye level. When the camera is too high, it tends to accentuate forehead wrinkles. When the camera is too low, you are forcing our audience to look straight up your nose. Cameras that are too low also expose neck lines and make you appear as though you are slouching on the sofa with your laptop in your lap. Positioning the camera at eye level helps us maintain the most natural interaction reminiscent of a face-to-face conversation. After-all, communication is most effective in-person, so the better we can imitate this, the more personal, convincing and overall effective you can be.
6. Eliminate Unintended Interruptions
Working from home for a lot of us can be a huge adjustment. Your coworkers understand that your children may make an unexpected cameo from time to time, and often in these instances, it’s a refreshing, personal, real-life perk in an otherwise boring meeting. Just take into account the climate of the meeting, and try to plan ahead when distractions could be detrimental to the call. Yes, you may send the meeting into “ooohs” and “awwws” when your cats trots across the desk, but overall, it may be distracting from whomever is speaking, and will become less cute when it becomes a daily appearance.
7. Don’t Skimp on Hair Maintenance
Unkempt hair makes you look like you woke up 15 minutes before your meeting. For those of us who keep the sides of our hair tight, lengthening the time between trips to the barber can result in permanent bedhead until the hair grows long enough to lay down. Maintaining your pre-quarantine grooming routine will keep you looking “virtual boardroom” ready, and keep the professionalism bar set high. If you’ve been using quarantine to explore alternate hair styles, or add considerable length to your hair, check out our article about maintaining your luscious locks during quarantine here, or talk to your barber about how to stay looking intentional while you transition your style.
8. Use Camera Friendly Hair Products
If you’re accustomed to using hairspray or pomade, try shifting to matte products to avoid a glossy sheen that commonly gives a greasy look on camera. Aveda Men Pure-Formance Grooming Clay can help you achieve almost any look with a strong hold, and lightweight, matte finish. Ask your barber for additional advice on what alternate products can best achieve your existing look.
Put Your Best Face Forward
9. Create a Skin Care Routine
Let’s face it. Webcams are not flattering, and often leave you looking like you just rolled out of bed. It doesn’t help that your in-person “glow” is at the mercy of which directions the windows are facing in your home work space. A good routine should include cleansing, toning, and moisturizing and can have a high impact on looking well rested and energetic. Radiating healthy skin presents you as engaged and present. You want your audience to be focusing on your topics and ideas, not distracted by the bags under your eyes.
Did we mention moisturizing? Not only does your skin lose elasticity over time, but shaving is also a form of exfoliation. Using a light, water-based daily moisturizer is the easiest way to keep you looking young and shine-free throughout the day. Jack Black’s Double-Duty Face Moisturizer with SPF 20 is a great way to moisturize and protect your skin from the aging effects of the sun. Ask your Barber if this product could be right for you.
If you’re prone to oily skin, have blotting papers tucked away in your desk for a quick way to get rid of that excess oil before your next meeting.