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5 Do-Now Home Office Tips that Will Pay Off Big in 2013

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Is your home office everything it should be? Can you be productive there? Are your communications with your co-workers, manager and customers as effective from home as they are at work?

Even if you answered “no” to these questions, it’s easy to right your home office and turn it into a haven that helps you be a more effective, creative, focused professional.

Working from home is on the uptick. In only 10 years—from 1999 to 2010, the number of people who worked at home at least one day per week increased from 9.5 million to 13.4 million, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation. A report in InformationWeek indicated 90% of key staff members work offsite at least occasionally, while 30% spend half their working time offsite.

The number of home workers, or teleworkers, is expected to continue to increase in the coming years as companies adopt the mobile lifestyle. Based on the previously cited survey, Monday and Fridays are the most popular days to work at home, and metro areas in the Southeast, Southwest and West have the largest percentage of teleworkers.    

Whether you are in your home or at your office desk, a big portion of your day is spent in meetings and phone conferences. Teleworkers have relied on calling in to these gatherings for years, but video conferencing is becoming a much better option. According to studies by verbal communication researcher Albert Mehradian of UCLA, 55% of human communication is non-verbal, making voice-only conversations a poor substitute for the real thing. Video conferencing can add that personal touch and the non-verbal clues that enrich communications. And while many of the 35-and-over crowd was initially uncomfortable being “on camera,” they are overcoming their fears as Skype and Facetime become a regular part of our daily lives.

The Home Office Hero 

Now is the time to set up your home office with an industry-leading video conferencing solution that can provide a competitive edge for you and your company in all your communications. These five tips will help you present yourself and your company at your best.

Create an inviting, experienced office ambience.
You want to consider your office’s lighting, appearance and background. Poor lighting can be extremely distracting to those watching you. If possible, use a lot of natural bright lighting, but not directly behind you. When you are lit directly from behind your face will be unrecognizable. Your office should also be neat and free from clutter. And finally, consider what viewers will see—in addition to you. A background of bookshelves is one good option. Try to avoid a closet door or completely blank wall.

Ensure clear communication with industry-leading video equipment.
Skype and Facetime are simple and easy to use, but they aren’t ready for business yet. You will want a scalable, high-performance platform that won’t hang during your conference or provide jerky, pixelated images. You’ll also want an external web cam. Integrated cams provide a very stilted, static view. An external web cam provides the flexibility to stream video from anywhere and at different angles.

Collaborate with one or many using robust video conferencing features.
Attending and leading video conferences are extremely important for large-scale projects. You will want an easy way to invite participants and the ability to provide toll-free numbers so they can easily attend. These meetings often hinge on the ability to share materials such as presentations, spreadsheets, documents and images. At the end of the meeting, you’ll also want to share a recording, in case attendees need to review certain points.

Display a professional, savvy responsible appearance.
How you look on screen is important. You may want to consider a green screen background that will allow you to imprint certain images or your company logo behind you. You will want to be careful that the clothing you choose doesn’t blend into your background. If you’re video conferencing with customers are partners, wear a shirt with a logo that quickly reminds your viewers who you are representing.

Contribute to your company’s bottom line.
Video conferencing from home isn’t only a convenience for you; it can also save your company money in reduced travel costs. And it’s impossible to dismiss how a professional on-camera presence portrays your company as a technology leader. People will be able to associate your good ideas with a face, a personality and a voice. Video conferencing provides that personal touch that a phone conference alone has always lacked.