Most of us are no stranger to pulling out the laptop and working from our home office or kitchen table at least occasionally; the past 10 years have shown a 91% increase in Telecommuting, also known as work from home (WFH).
WFH is at an all- time high during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you were not one of the millions of Americans who already worked from home; you are probably working from home right now. As corona virus precautions are implemented, WFH is mandatory for much of the global workforce.
Virtual Reality and AI are the Future
In the past, two major concerns for employers about WFH were distraction and loss of productivity. Studies like this one prove these concerns were unfounded. On average, remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than office workers. With results like that, there is little doubt today’s surge could lead to increased opportunities for employees to continue remote work. Fast Company recently predicted that virtual reality conferencing will become the preferred method of communication over face-to face meetings in the future. Bill Gates suggests the future is now.
Working from home offers perks for employees too; no commute, and no coworker interruptions (unless you have young children home due to COVID-19 school closures) eliminates distractions which presents the opportunity for more continuous deep work. The extra time can be spent on work life balance, like spending time with family or exercise.
The one drawback to WFH; it’s easy to wake up and work in your pajama’s or gym clothes and make a routine of doing so. This routine can begin to affect both your self-esteem and productivity. According to this study, how you dress has an immediate impact on performance.
Particularly when videoconferencing, the front- facing piece of telecommuting.
Every Interaction Counts
Every interaction with bosses or colleagues; even family and friends is an interaction with your personal brand. Janis Milham, Senior Vice President for Marriott’s Classic Select brands says to think of your personal brand like a bank account. The more “deposits” you make in the form of positive impressions, interactions and outcomes, the more favorable your brand will be. It also helps you to be more resilient. The result: “organically” more opportunities and business come your way.
Your personal brand gives you personal power. Personal power gives access to what you want; credibility, distinctiveness, power, promotion, a new job, or anything else.
It’s easy to forget professionalism, and lower the value of your personal brand, when lulled into the casual comfort of home.
To make, every Zoom, Ring, Facetime, Skype and any other videoconference count as an asset, here are 5 ways to have your personal brand explode with videoconferences:
1. Good Lighting
Good lighting looks polished and professional. Proper lighting allows people to see your facial expressions and appearance too. Natural light is the best option; find a bright room and sit facing the window. This setup may not be available. In that case opt for straight on lighting set close behind the camera, or side lighting. A ring light does the trick. Even a second monitor. If you are working with artificial lighting, take a moment to test the setting that looks the most natural and flattering.
2. Look Sharp
Studies like this one prove the way we dress directly affects performance, and others perception of our performance. Dress to your position, and the nature of the call. Business casual is a good default dress code, and know your audience. If the person(s) you are meeting typically dress up, dress up too. It is always safest to wear a jacket, or sportscoat for the most professional polished presence. Make sure the shirt underneath is wearable, and ironed. That way if the other person is dressed smart casual (i.e. sweater, polo, and no jacket) you can always slip off the jacket to match. Wear flattering hues; the whole world is online right now, making this a prime opportunity to increase your visibility.
Groom yourself. Women; apply light makeup. Men; remember to shave.
Bonus Telecommuting Tip: Get up, shower, dress, and put something nice on daily for self -respect and actionable personal power.
3. Clean Clutter-Free Background
A messy office reduces people’s confidence in you because a cluttered space leaves the professional perception of a cluttered mind. Approach the viewable area in your live video feed as an extension of your office; broadcasting your credibility and competency. Remove unnecessary or excessive items.
4. Powerful Body Language
It’s easy to forget about posture when meeting remotely, particularly after hours of hunching over the smartphone and computer. Remember to sit up straight. You’ll appear more alert, credible, capable, and powerful. Proper posture give the impression you are on top of the little things that make a big difference off camera too.
Avoid tilting your head to one side, something women do more often than men. Mimi Reilly, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (Ret)and NLP practitioner says, “the tilt is an unconscious attempt to be ‘nice’ or defer to the other speaker.”Tilting helps create a power differential between men (non-defer) to women (defer).”
5. Check Before Going Live
Think of a videoconference as sitting at the boardroom table. You would not adjust your hair or organize your surroundings once the business meeting has started. Set yourself up ahead of time so you can remain poised and present on the call. Start meetings with video preview when possible, that way any necessary adjustments can be administered before presenting yourself to “the room.”
The way you show up at videoconferences amidst uncertainty and social distancing is critical to your personal brand. Your personal brand gives you personal power. Personal power gives access to whatever you want. Choose good lighting, look sharp, create a clean clutter-free background, sit up straight, and make adjustments before going live. Observe these five tips, and you are well on your way to exploding your personal brand.
Opportunities exist during challenging times. WFH trend during COVID-19 creates an opportunity to set yourself apart from the noise. At a time of layoffs, and economic uncertainty, you can set yourself up to stand out virtually. Reap the benefits of a stronger personal brand in the way of new clients, business and/or opportunities in the weeks, months, even years to come with a strong videoconferencing presence.
To optimize your or your team’s videoconferencing presence contact us at Ambitious Image or email firstname.lastname@example.org.