In the last few months during the Coronavirus outbreak, many of us have had to come accustomed to remote working. With this came a pile of protocols, tools, and much more.
LinkedIn was flushed with posts of people that instructed you how to work remotely, seemingly all giving each other the same tips & trick. Once we all got that covered, we got flushed by incredible numbers of video calls, consisting of ‘team meetings’, ‘webinars’, ‘team drinks’, ‘conferences’, etc…
Personally, my diary had never been as full of things that, well… Just weren’t that productive…
What we didn’t predict
One thing, none of us would have predicted. This is that we would get to know some of our colleagues even better. When we interacted with our colleagues on the work floor, it was always on this ‘neutral ground’, the office, or some of us possibly on company work trips, but rarely at a colleague’s house. Therefore having a direct peering eye, in the form of a webcam into someone’s home has given a new dimension to the relationship. In some cases good, and in other cases a sense of unexpected disappointment prevails.
A great example of the latter has been UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who seems to speak his words of hope to the country from his little red office, which wouldn’t look misplaced as a dungeon. It’s a shame that the tremendous work that he & his team have done might be undermined by such a basic flaw.
Whichever way, for better or for worse, emotion and opinion is being transferred based on the person’s home, and decorating choices.
Video calls and your personal brand image
As a branding professional, I believe that every person represents their own brand, and needs to not just be conscious of this, but actually has an obligation to pre-think what they would like to represent, and if this image matches these values.
It’s simply too easy to say; “Well, these are unprecedented times’, that’s like a cook apologizing for burning a steak because he didn’t have the right ingredients.
There’s just no excuse.
Create a physical background for your video chat
Your room might not be a television studio, but there’s not much you need to look professional. A simple search on Amazon will get you a white backscreen ($20) and some simple lighting ($40). You don’t have to be a pro to set it up but a simple white backdrop will do miracles.
That being said, as a branding professional, I still can’t help but feel that the ‘empty space’ is also lost ‘real estate’ where you can actually communicate something great, about you, or about your company/brand.
Virtual Backgrounds for video chat
There’s also another way: Virtual Backgrounds. When I first learned of these I just sort of stared at my friend’s face, and it didn’t really make sense till I first saw it. Basically, your video calling software, cuts you out (quite accurately) and pastes you over ANY background you like. Problem solved.
Which video calling software supports virtual backgrounds?
So far the following video callers support virtual backgrounds: Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Webex (Cisco) (update Nov 2020 – now Google Meet supports this too.)
Where to get a custom virtual background?
Once we noticed this issue, at DesignBro, we decided we would jump in, as we could only find very few places to create a professional-looking custom background. Within 1 week, we managed to launch a service where professional designers will create a fully custom background design for your video calls.
Considering the current crisis & the number of designers out of a job, we’ve temporarily waived our platform fee & we will not be taking any commission on any of these virtual background projects. This way our clients are helping designers, and we are helping people regain their control and professionalism from their home.
Examples of branded virtual backgrounds for Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams & Webex:
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.