If you’re working from home you probably spend most of the day looking at your computer screen, focusing on the work right in front of you. However, when it’s time to jump on a video call, you’re suddenly reminded of everything that’s lurking behind you—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Your home office background can make a big difference in how you’re perceived on video calls, whether it’s a sales call, business meeting, or even a job interview. It’s important to appear professional and polished. But it can be difficult to know what constitutes a good “look” on camera.
Let me save you some trouble. As someone who’s run a remote company for several years, I’ve seen just about every home office background there is. Below are ten common distractions I recommend you avoid, and a professional background option—the Voodrop—that can solve your background problems permanently.
10 Potential Distractions In Your Home Office Background
1. Doors & Closets
Every room has at least one door. If your desk is against the wall—and your webcam is facing the rest of the room—there’s probably one behind you.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with having a door in your background, unless you’re absolutely sure no one will use it. To avoid this possibility, take a quick survey of the room for other potential angles.
The same goes for closet doors. If you have no other option, make sure the door is closed. You want whatever personal items that do show up in your background to be carefully curated.
2. Political, Athletic & National Statements
Many of us have causes we champion, teams we love, or organizational affiliations that we’re passionate about. While these things may be a big part of our identity, they needn’t be broadcast in a professional setting.
It’s important to consider how pictures, posters, or other items in your background that represent a cause may be interpreted by others. For example, it may not be beneficial to have multiple pro-America items visible if you’re interacting with (or selling to) international organizations. Even if the item is seemingly innocuous and unlikely to offend anyone, ask yourself if it positively contributes to the image you want to convey. For professional home office backgrounds it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Bookshelves are common in home offices, and they can be styled to look great. However, it’s important to keep in mind that viewers will scan the titles and assume you endorse them. If you’re using a bookshelf in your background it’s a good idea to carefully curate the books to help subtly convey the message you want to communicate.
At the very least, scan the books to make sure there isn’t anything that goes against the image you are presenting, and make sure you’re comfortable being associated with the titles displayed. You likely won’t have a chance to explain their presence (you got a certain book as a gift or are using it for reference, for example) during your meeting.
Never worry about your background for a video conference again! Configure your Anyvoo webcam backdrop today.
4. Your Bed
Those who live in a small space or don’t have a dedicated home office often use their bedroom as their office.
Bedrooms are intimate places. You might be comfortable with your own personal space, but that doesn’t mean whoever you’re meeting with is, especially if he or she is a professional acquaintance. If you must make the call from your bedroom, avoid having your bed in your video background. Instead, try to set your desk so that your webcam is facing the wall.
When you have clutter—laundry, extra furniture, piles of papers, etc.—in your home office background, you’re sending any of all of these messages:
- You’re disorganized.
- You don’t pay attention to detail.
- The meeting you’re on just isn’t that important.
To avoid having a messy personal space in their video background, many people use virtual backgrounds supplied by their video conferencing software. However, virtual backgrounds sometimes have technical issues, and won’t necessarily solve the problem. (And could actually be more distracting.) Clutter has a simple fix: Turn on your webcam and move any clutter that appears in the background outside the camera frame.
Having a window in your home office video background might not seem like a problem, but it is for one simple reason: Our webcams aren’t very smart.
In order to calibrate the lighting for your video, your webcam looks for the brightest area in the frame and then adjusts the rest of the image based on that. When there is a window behind you with natural light coming through, that becomes the brightest thing in the picture. As a result, you end up going almost completely dark. So unless you want to look like one of those shadowy silhouettes speaking as an anonymous source in a documentary, avoid having a window in your home office video background.
7. The Ceiling
Many people do video calls from their laptops rather than a static desktop sitting flat on a workstation. Laptops are great because of their mobility, but consider the angle in which your webcam is pointing. When your laptop is placed lower than eye level, you need to point the screen up toward your face; this puts the angle of your webcam facing up.
Looking up at someone from a lower position is a strange perspective for a viewer. It feels uncomfortable because it’s uncommon in real life. Also, when your camera is pointing up, the ceiling becomes part of your background, which is a distracting perspective for the viewer. Unnatural perspectives take the viewer’s attention away from what they should be focused on: your conversation.
8. Your Chair
Large executive chairs were originally designed to look powerful and dominant in a boardroom. If you have one of these modern day thrones, you probably look (and feel) great in real life. However, the effect doesn’t quite translate on video and looks like a strange growth is erupting from the back of your head.
While video conferences are closer to being in-person than other modes of communication, they’re still virtual. You need to simulate the experience you want someone to have if you were meeting in the physical world. Large chairs are a great example of something that comes across differently in real life vs. on camera.
9. Headsets & Microphones
While an external headset can improve the audio on your video conferences, it may present an issue visually. You want your meeting to feel as personal and natural as possible; headsets remind everyone you’re doing something technical, and can detract from the rapport you want to establish.
The same goes for microphones in the foreground of your image. If you’re in a one-on-one call, the microphone becomes a barrier that imposes a sense of distance between you and the person on the other side. However, if you’re doing a presentation rather than a one-on-one call, this doesn’t apply. In that case, having a microphone or headset signals authority and lets people know you’re the speaker.
Easily-avoidable distractions like pets detract from the focus of your meeting, and show a lack of respect for the person on the other side of the call. So unless you’re in the pet industry, keep them out of the picture.
In short, the best way to avoid distractions and bad impressions on video meetings is to simplify your home office background as much as possible.
One way to do that is with the Anyvoo Voodrop. It’s designed specifically for video calls from your home, and it’s size, easy setup, and design options give you total control of your background—no matter what else is happening in your environment.
What is a Voodrop?
An Anyvoo Voodrop is an easy-to-use, collapsible backdrop designed specifically for use on video calls. It consists of whatever pattern you like—even your company logo—printed on tension fabric that stretches over a sturdy aluminum frame. It’s just the right size to fill your webcam video without taking up too much space in your home office.
Voodrops provide an interesting and seemingly realistic background, but keep the focus on you. Following are nine predesigned Voodrop background options—but really the sky’s the limit. You can customize your own design on one or both sides!
1. Old School Wood Plank
Old School Wood Plank is the most popular backdrop design, and it’s not hard to see why. The natural tones of the wood are very warm and clean-looking. The design adds character to your video call background, without being distracting.
Because it’s a darker color, Old School Wood Plank displays nicely on most webcams. When your background is a darker color, your webcam will adjust to brighten your face. The gain settings in a webcam just look for the brightest part of what’s in front of the camera and sets that as the benchmark. Gain simply means how sensitive your camera is to light. So if you use a darker background with natural tones, you’ll appear clearly on camera and won’t look like you’re sitting in the shadows.
A Note on Lighting…
Virtual backgrounds on green screen look awkward because the webcam doesn’t adjust the gain down for brighter images. Voodrops prevent this from happening: Since you’re sitting in the same environment as the backdrop, your lighting is evenly coordinated between you and the backdrop.
Old School Wood Plank works very well with any logo to create a professionally branded environment. To make your logo pop more, add a drop shadow or reverse out the color so it appears cleanly on the darker surface.
Here’s an example from HubSpot that looks good with a centered logo:
2. Rustic Wood Wall
If you like the wooden look but prefer a more distressed and vintage style, you’ll like the weathered look of Rustic Wood Wall. Uneven panels, nails, and gouges combine with earthy tones for a cool, slightly edgy effect. This look is ideal for a company or individual with a more personal and casual brand tone.
Believe it or not, this backdrop is a photo of a real wood wall, which you can learn how to build yourself in this article. This backdrop looks incredibly realistic on a video call—people are always blown away to discover it’s a fabric background!
3. Downtown Loft Brick
Downtown Loft Brick is perfect if you want a modern, hip vibe. The background looks like a wall you might see in a trendy restaurant or tech startup in a remodeled, post-industrial building.
In this example, the logo was made to look like it’s stenciled or painted right on the wall, which worked really well for Verge’s brand. The brown and black tones give the design some interest, and the occasionally painted white brick makes it pop.
4. Bold Stacked Stone
If you don’t want to put a logo on your backdrop, Bold Stacked Stone is a great choice. This backdrop has a lot of shadows and color, resulting in a very textured, realistic-looking background. However, if you have a bold or complex logo you’d like to add to this backdrop, it may get lost in the details.
The details look pretty amazing on camera, though. Here’s what I shot on my home webcam:
5. Chill Concrete Plaster
Chill Concrete Plaster is a good choice if you want a modern or aggressive look, or if you want a less realistic, virtual appearance. It has a nice gradient and a lot of texture in the vibrant colors, and will likely get some comments on a video call.
Here’s how it looks when I put it on my webcam in my own home office:
6. JoJo Shiplap
If you want a brighter backdrop, these next few options are for you. But keep in mind that you want to avoid a solid white background on a webcam backdrop because the gain on your webcam will shift down and make you appear darker. To avoid this, our brighter backdrop options are not pure white.
Because JoJo Shiplap has some weathering, as well as some brown tones, it works really well as a “bright and light” background. You won’t get as much gain as from a darker background, but JoJo still makes you look good on camera.
7. Whitewashed Chevron
Whitewashed Chevron expresses a similar idea—the predominant look is white, but there’s a mix of tans, grays, and browns to create a warmer tone with some depth.
Since it contains a lot of subtle details, Whitewashed Chevron fades from notice after a while. This makes it a good choice if you want a backdrop that looks bright and clean, but isn’t a topic of conversation.
It’s also a great choice for designers, career coaches, or any professional who provides more personal services. If you have a single-color logo that you don’t mind blending with the background a bit, the result is a very classy, design-conscious style.
To see what we mean, here’s an example from Vanessa Simpkins:
Here’s what it looks like on my personal webcam:
8. Painted White Brick
Painted White Brick is Anyvoo’s second most popular backdrop. Even though it’s called Painted White Brick, this backdrop is really more of a gray, with a lot of interesting detail to make it look 3D. This backdrop is ideal for someone who wants an understated background or prefers to highlight their logo and branding.
The gradient is a little lighter at the top than the bottom, making it easy to insert a logo in the upper half of the background. With darker backgrounds, you need to reverse out the color of your logo, but both bright and dark-colored logos look great on Painted White Brick. If representing your original logo color is important to you, this is a good option.
IMPACT has a logo made of moss in their office’s conference room, so we recreated that on their backdrop. Now their employees appear to be in their conference room on-site when they’re actually working from home!
Bonus Option: Uplighting
Uplighting is a popular effect created by shining light upward from fixtures on the floor. It’s a great way to improve the ambience at an event or in a video studio. With your Voodrop, you can recreate uplighting, downlighting, highlighting, or any lighting effect you’d get in a video studio by printing it on the fabric—which means you never have to fiddle with actual lighting equipment.
With Anyvoo, you don’t need to remodel to have a home office video conference background that looks great. With the above designs, your surroundings will always appear professional and attractive, no matter where you are. Take a look at our configuration page to learn more about our backdrops and choose the ones that best suit you!