How to Maximize Your Virtual Office Background

Last year, the global pandemic transformed Zoom from a nice benefit to a tech essential. Zoom became the primary platform that businesses relied on to keep their teams connected. At the height of the COVID-19 shut down, more than 300 million daily meeting participants used the Zoom application. 

It remains to be seen whether Zoom’s rapid acceleration will taper off in 2021, as vaccines become available and more employees return to their offices. However, many companies plan to maintain remote or hybrid workforces in 2021. Meaning, Zoom will continue to be a relevant, necessary tool for virtual communication.

The Ideal Zoom Environment

If you are among the millions of workers who use Zoom, then you know firsthand just how useful and convenient this platform is. However, you’re likely also familiar with the hassle of maintaining a clean, professional environment for each video call. If your desk is cluttered, or the space has too many distractions and you don’t have time to make adjustments before the next meeting, this can leave an unsightly impression. Further, it could steal focus away from the topic of discussion. 

This is where virtual office backgrounds can come to the rescue. Zoom offers several images on its interface—many of which are free to access. These can be used as a virtual background to hide your actual workspace from view. Below you’ll find instructions to create a virtual office background, either with Zoom’s image options or your own upload.

How to Set Your Virtual Office Background:

Whether you want to show your coworkers a fresh, modern living room, a wall of bookshelves, or a window that overlooks an urban skyline, here is a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to create your Zoom background:

  1. Install the Zoom video conferencing software on your Windows or Mac desktop (it’s also available on Apple or Google mobile devices).  
  2. Create a Zoom account or login with your credentials if you have access to an existing business or personal account.
  3. Click on the gear-shaped “Settings” icon in the top right corner of the Zoom dashboard. 
  4. Select the “Virtual Background” option in the menu on the left side of this page. 
  5. Choose an image from the archive default Zoom background options, or click on the “plus-sign” icon to upload your own image. 
  6. Use a photo in your desktop or mobile camera roll, or create a virtual background with one of Canva’s designer templates.   
  7. Crop your image to either 1280×720 or 1920×1080 pixels to fit Zoom’s required aspect ratio of 16:9. Then, click on “Add Image” to upload. 

Real Office Backgrounds You’ll Want to Emulate:

When news anchors, politicians, talk show hosts and other public figures transitioned to virtual broadcasts in 2020, their Zoom backgrounds were subject to attention and online discussion. Even social media took notice, with Twitter’s Room Rater assigning point values to remote celebrity workspaces. 

If you don’t want to superimpose yourself on a fake, digital background. The other option is to work on the real space behind your camera view. Whether it’s an art wall, a book case, or a natural window scene—take some time to upgrade your WFH office space for a better Zoom view. 

Below are five influencers whose office backgrounds hit just the right balance of trendy, aesthetic and professional. Take a cue from their expertise as you select a virtual office background:
  • Anderson Cooper: The investigative journalist and CNN newscaster records his show “Anderson Cooper 360” in front of warm mahogany shelving, rows of colorful books, chic marble accents and muted sconce light fixtures in his New York City apartment.
  • Michelle Obama: The former U.S. First Lady and current political activist uses the natural brightness of white bookshelves and cabinets. These are offset by darker accessories and picture frames. In turn, this evokes a tone of both minimalism and vibrancy in her home office.  
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci: The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) plays on a smart contrast of organization. He adds just a touch of academic dishevelment in the form of books heaped on the floor and documents strewn across his desk.
  • Ellen DeGeneres: The iconic comedian and daytime television host takes advantage of the lush green landscape outside her large panoramic window. She illuminates the dim, understated interior from where she remotely interviews guests on “The Ellen Show.” 
  • Trevor Noah: The satirist and political commentator behind “The Daily Show” opts for a streamlined, almost geometric vibe with neatly arranged hardcover books, sleek charcoal shelves and cabinets. He includes spherical lampshades and a colorful burst of flowers as well. 

Whether you continue to work remotely in 2021 or are transitioning back onsite, the Zoom meeting is here to stay. Maximize your virtual office background. This will make a strong impression with whoever is on the other side of that screen. Professionalism matters—whether it’s in a virtual or IRL meeting. It’s critical to take care of the small details ahead of time and set yourself up for success.

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