The Zoom Space
Posted on August 16, 2020
You’ve probably participated in a Zoom, Skype, or other video conferencing call in the past month or two. Like it or hate it, it’s the way that the world is turning right now. Even when things get back to “normal”, this new way of doing work is here to stay.
In an in-person work setting, you can present yourself by modifying your physical appearance, such as by changing your clothes, getting enough sleep, and practicing basic hygiene.
In this modern digital work setting, your setting becomes a part of your personal appearance. You have control over the lighting you’re seen in and your surroundings. Taking the right steps with both can improve how you look, feel, and work.
Humans communicate with each other using language. Nature communicates with humans using light. When it’s gloomy outside, we feel gloomy. When the lighting’s good, we’re prone to like things more.
Thus, it’s in your best interest to have good lighting on your face (so people inherently like you better). Natural light is the best – put your computer in front of a window to achieve this. This lighting is optimal for people looking at you; the lighting will be even, and you won’t appear washed out. This is also opportune for your mental health; you get a face full of natural light, which is how we evolved.
If you can’t sit next to a window, you can position a lamp with a “warm” bulb so it illuminates you indirectly. This produces a suitable alternative to natural light.
If you haven’t already set up a digital working space, you need to. This could be as simple as a desk in your room or your kitchen table. Find a place with few distractions and intentionally create your space there.
In general, people say it’s better to have as few distractions as possible around you while you’re on a Zoom or Skype call. I personally think injecting a bit of your personality into your setting can have productive effects on your accompanying callers as well as yourself. By decorating your space, you show your digital coworkers that you care about what they’re looking at, and you enjoy it as well.
“But David, can’t I just use a Zoom background and be done with it?” Yes, you could. But then you wouldn’t get all of the awesome benefits of creating a working space for yourself.
Houseplants are a good place to start. As I mentioned above, we evolved in nature. Any ounce of greenery you can position around yourself will bring concentration and additional productivity (as well as oxygen and cleaner air). Succulents are a good replacement for these if you don’t have full-fledged houseplants, or if you’re bad at keeping them alive. They require a lower level of care, and they can look nice arranged around you.
Next, you can augment your digital working space with your favorite decorations. I like putting pictures of my cats around my area. I also have some small vases and other ceramics that go well with my succulents.
If you are creating your digital working space in the common area of your home and you can’t leave your decorations there when you’re not on the call, designate a box in your closet for your “co-working decor”. This’ll keep you organized and ready for whenever you need to work digitally.
The best part of this setup is that you don’t need to be on a Zoom or Skype call to be in this space. By intentionally making a place for yourself to get work done, you can induce a productive mindset in yourself whenever you’re there.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have any comments, ideas, or suggestions about workspaces, please feel free to reach out!
BBC – How to look your best on video calls