Home Office Design – 10 Tips to Avoid Video Conference Bloopers

Many people think decorating a home office is un-necessary. All you need is a desk, a chair and a computer, period. Your home office needs to function and look like a professional office. Why? The video conference.  If you aren’t video conferencing now, you will be, soon.

video conference view of woman in messy home office

How will you be remembered when you video conference with clients or your boss? Your work environment makes a big impression.

On a WallStreetJournal.com video interview about doodling to jump start ideas  what I was hearing and what I was seeing were in conflict. Listening to the interviewee she was knowledgeble about her topic. But looking at the video she came off as an amateur. In the background – a home office – was a stationary bicycle and a haphazard pile of papers. The bike was iffy, but the mess is a no-no. Neuroscience tells us that we remember what we see better than what we hear. I can’t remember much of what she said, but I easily remember the picture of her office and it did not support her professional image.

Another article Pants Required: Attending Meetings When Working from Home  was about personal appearance and manners during video conferences. One executive told of a video call with a consultant working from his home office in what appeared to be business attire. “We were chatting away and there was a knock on the door…When the consultant stood up to get the door, he had on a shirt, tie and boxer shorts.”  Another executive set up videoconferencing gear facing his home-office desk – with a large, graphic painting of a nude woman directly behind him. The painting was beautifully done, but splashed onto a video screen back at headquarters, it was a distraction. Is that kind of distraction accidental or intentional (distract those you are working with to get the upper hand?) Or was he just clueless that “cool” décor is not always professional décor?

Tips on Video Conferencing from Your Home Office:

  1. There is a difference between Skypeing with family and friends and video conferencing for business.
  2. Think of the video camera as a window into your office. What do you want your clients, colleagues or boss to see?
  3. Look behind you. What do you see? Do you want video visitors to see that too?
  4. If you have 15 minutes warning you can fake a clean office.
  5. If the view behind you is not expressive of your professional image, and you are working with a laptop, then move it so the camera frames you in the most professional background in your home office.
  6. A well-organized bookcase is a classic.  Be sure the books behind you relate to your field – no visible copies of Twilight.
  7. Or use a wall with framed art for a backdrop – but no Grateful Dead posters, or nudes, please.
  8. If there is nothing in your workspace you want to show a big client or your boss, then a blank wall is your best option.
  9. Learn to use the “visual mute” function for unexpected interruptions.
  10. Use the audio mute button whenever you are not talking. This will screen out the inevitable background noises of your home/neighborhood: yelling kids, barking dogs and traffic sounds.

Preparing your home office or workspace so it expresses your professional image and aspirations. It will be an inspiration to you and impress the heck out of your video guests.

Learn more about how to set up your home office for professional function and décor with The Smarter Home Office

photo by WSJ


  1. Hello Linda, Excellent advice. I struggled with the background too. It’s basically about five out of your ten points! One of the other people that I conference with got a foldable chair backdrop. I got the same thing here http://www.gadgetsgo.com/logitech-creative-usb-home-office-cam-pc-cover.html for about $30. It works very well to hide my very messy office. I hope that helps your readers.