Happy Anniversary, home office!

It has now been over a year that we have been working from home and video conferencing multiple times a day. And just in time for the one-year anniversary, it's time to realize what great tools we have at hand in the home office and how much they have helped us. Just imagine if this all happened in 2007, when all we had were clamshell phones. 

Whether you've turned off your camera for the past year or been the organizer of virtual cocktail hours, we've all had similar experiences with video conferencing. If we've learned anything, it's to always wear pants to avoid ending up like Good Morning America's Reeve.

Let's take a trip down memory lane and see what else we've learned over the past year. how does one work video conference? We have brought you 7 tips and recommendations for this.

1. Leave your camera on in video conferences

Don't be afraid to turn on the camera in every virtual meeting. Because that keeps you engaged. With your camera on, you're less likely to pick up your phone to scroll through social media or get distracted.

Being able to see the participants in the conversation and their facial expressions is a very decisive advantage that has a positive effect on the atmosphere of the conversation. It strengthens the team spirit when you see each other and creates a completely different closeness and persuasive power for your colleagues and business partners. So if you get the chance in a meeting, make sure you turn on the camera!

as Small exception to the rule: If it is a meeting with many participants, it can make sense that only the moderators have their cameras on and the participants only make themselves visible when they are speaking.

2. Test your equipment

Before your virtual meetings, take a minute to make sure everything is working properly. Make sure your camera is on, the picture quality is good, and the light is on.

Just like with your selfies, you should also make sure that the lighting is right for video conferences. Even with the best camera, your image can look grainy and unprofessional in poor lighting. Pro tip: A ring light can help to present a professional appearance and the best light here.

Do a quick test to make sure your microphone and speakers are working properly. If you're using a headset, make sure it's plugged in and the settings reflect that option. Finally, be sure to check if your internet connection is strong enough.

3. Invest in a good headset

The audio quality of conversations over the computer microphone usually leaves more to be desired. Which, if at all, is only partially due to the software used.

The problem: Bad audio can not only be frustrating, it can actually have an impact on the motivation and productivity of the participants.

A joint study by audio system provider Epos and polling firm Ipsos proves: Poor video conferencing audio quality has a negative impact on business. 95% of employees in modern work environments report that acoustic disturbances affect their concentration and efficiency at work.

On average, each of the employees surveyed spends 30 minutes of their weekly working time compensating for the effects of poor audio quality in video conferences. "What?", "Can you repeat that please" and "Sorry, I can't understand you right now" - these classics in video conferences just take up time. Just like the repetitions of the participants who were not understood or disturbing background noise.

As a simple antidote, we recommend: Invest in a good headset and save yourself and your callers the unnecessary disruption that comes with poor audio quality.

4. Schedule breaks between your video conferences

In the classic office, the journey from the desk to the meeting room or to an employee's office is part of everyday life. Even a simple trip to the bathroom or for coffee forces you to get up, stretch your legs, and move.

We lack this movement in the home office. At home you are only a few steps away from the bathroom and coffee maker. This does not offer you the same "pause effect" as in the office.

Video conferencing is exhausting. And after several meetings in a row, it quickly feels like you're chained to your desk. As an antidote, make sure you allow enough time between meetings to take those short breaks to unwind — and stop staring at a screen.

5. Use screen sharing

When presenting slides or a document, or discussing something that you would normally provide a handout for, use screen sharing in video conferencing.

This enables the participants to follow your explanations correctly. Don't just provide the link to the document or file. Because that way you cannot be sure that your interlocutors will open it. Or they open it, but at the same time deal with other parts than what they are presenting at the moment.

So do both: Make the information available afterwards and share your screen during the appointment. In this way you cover all scenarios and ensure an engaged audience during the virtual meeting.

6. The Trusted Shift Key

The most heard sentences in virtual meetings are probably "Excuse me, I was on mute!" "You're still on mute" or "Please mute your microphone".

We all know annoying background noise from meeting participants or embarrassing private conversations in front of the supposedly muted microphone.

To avoid such situations, just turn on the auto-mute option when joining a meeting.

But be careful: A permanently mute participant quickly seems disinterested and absent. So make sure to actively participate in the meeting and get involved - with the microphone switched on, of course. ?

7. Keep the meeting short and active

Studies show that our attention wanes after ten minutes during virtual meetings. After an hour, a break should be planned to help the participants to concentrate and relax. Even shorter meeting units in smaller groups promote interaction and concentration.

Digital features like raise hands and chat can increase participation and interaction and draw and hold attention to the meeting.

Video conferencing is here to stay

One thing is for sure: video conferencing and virtual meetings are here to stay! Even when employees are back in the office, remote work will remain an integral part of many companies - at least a few days a week.

Because most companies have recognized the advantages of distributed work: You can save high travel costs if you limit the number of personal meetings. They also reap the benefits of tapping into new talent pools and potential customers beyond their geographic borders. And most of the employees don't want to do without the newly learned flexibility.