Setting up a Home Office Response to Covid-19

Perfect Video ConferencingConference Rooms Perfect Video ContentSetting up a Home Office Response to Covid-19

Perfect Video Conferencing (PVC) is hearing from the team, partners, and customers that home-offices are an integral part of supporting a response to the coronavirus. We’d like to offer some free advice on what to do and some purchase options in order to get this right. These are some challenging times and businesses with a clear home office and collaboration strategy will emerge better than those that do not. We can help you maintain business continuity, culture, and connections while being social and remaining distant.

First off, we all need to adapt, be forgiving and flexible.

  • Digital forgiveness. Not everyone has a great headset. Not everyone understands echo, USB drivers and software conflicts. We can take it easy on one another for a while- times are tense enough already.
  • Digital awareness. If you are the weak link, you might dumb down the call and make it productive. If you have fear of technology, practice.
  • Digital readiness. Shower, eat, enjoy your commute. Start work-ready and sit up- you might be on camera. Help your coworkers notice your posture and theirs.

There’s a likelihood that your organization is struggling on how to support a home office environment and what best practices to implement. Today it is the coronavirus we are responding to. Tomorrow, it could be something else. What you decide today will help you be better prepared for our post-Covid-19 collaboration world.

Supervisors and managers, take note.

  • Some people are wired for home office, some are not. Create a virtual water cooler, for those that miss connecting. Make a rule that they can NOT say the C words (corona/COVID) in that meeting space and can’t hang out there for more than 15 minutes. It’s a place to connect, not to wallow.
  • Learning styles differ, so facilitate and train your users differently.
  • Crowdsource – in a conference room you can command and demand attention. In a virtual meeting space, it takes a bit more effort to stay engaged and having your team help make meetings meaningful, efficient and effective goes a long way. It also makes them shorter.

PVC focuses on video conferencing platforms and AV integrations that goes with that. We build great (OK, PERFECT) collaboration solutions, rooms and meeting spaces. Right now, however, is the time for video conferencing at home under some challenging circumstances and PVC wants to help get things right; even on a budget.

Proper Setup

First step for a perfect home office is the setup. You would need to make sure to position the video camera directly at eye to eye level. Getting a USB camera, like Logitech Brio; can help you achieve the placement and also it has the feature of light correction in your calls.

Lighting matters; you want to position a light source in front and directly on you. Having light behind you can alter the video and will make it hard to see your face.

Wire up.

  • Connected internet is more reliable. Use Wifi only if you must and shut down other bandwidth-intensive apps. The cat video can wait. Have your kids download content rather than streaming during your most important calls.
  • Connected audio, like a USB headset, provides better sound. Get any headset, binaural or monaural as it suits your preference. It is best to tether your users to a computer via a headset to achieve a more quality sound and less background noise.

Best Practices

Having good Video Conferencing edicate is key in having a professional video conferencing experience. It is best to train and be aware of the mute function of the headset. Knowing when and not to mute will make or break the conference call. Since it is in a home office environment; there will be many background noises such as kids and pets.

  • Note: Please don’t feel obliged to apologize for your kids interrupting. They are feeling our stress and your job as a parent is to make them feel safe. We can wait. If you are less stressed out, you will be more productive and your colleagues will appreciate that. If you need to put your kid in a time out (kids can be annoying after all), put yourself in a second time out with them.

External USB Camera placement is also important; you do not want to place them on a 2nd monitor facing the side of your head. IF you use the laptop camera, check the lid angle – you might be showing your chest or your nostrils. You can mute your camera if you decide to take a bathroom break and bring your device with you. If that’s the only camera you have, elevate the laptop if you can so the camera is at eye height- it will also help you elevate your posture.

Typical Equipment- Home Office

  1. Headset or earbuds – ANYTHING is better than the open microphone unless you have a private and quiet home office setup. Having a good USB headset (yes, we always recommend wired headsets) and having a good USB camera is what you want to get.
  2. Those of us who have a home office as a primary office usually graduate to an external USB microphone/speaker combo like the Phoenix Audio Duet or similar units by Sennheiser and Konftel.
  3. Quality headsets such as Sennheiser, Plantronics, Jabra, or Logitech can run from $50 – $300 and make all the difference for the far-end participants.
  4. Camera – Choose nearly any USB camera above $70 and you are going to be fine, such as Huddly., AVer and Logitech can run from $100 – $800 depending on the experience you want.
  5. Keyboard – ergonomics and sound. Quiet and comfortable keyboards help with noise, proper monitor height helps as noted above and your posture will thank you.
  6. Windows, doors, lights- action. Do what you can to create a look like you are ready to be a guest on CNN.

Typical Problems- here are some things to avoid

  • Field of view, placing the camera incorrectly.
  • Multitasking computers on wifi.
  • Running multiple pieces of software that need access to your headset or camera at the same time. Just like you, you will be surprised at how efficient your computer and software is when it does single tasks.
  • Audio issues, having not so great headset and outside interference. Learn where the mute is and plan to use it.
  • Connectivity, wifi is not as stable as direct ethernet connection
  • Choosing the right platform, and with many platforms to choose from, pick a lane and know why you are in it.

Once in a while, you might be ready for an upgrade. Maybe you can see into the future and in a post-corona workspace, you may want to design a better home workspace. We’ve seen two very viable solutions; 1) build your own bundle and support whatever is available or, 2) buy a kit designed to address the problem and solutions you need.

Option 1 – Laptop or home computer

The options are massive and scale to thousands of people as we transition to home office setups. Not many people have the budget for high-quality equipment, so testing and setting some affordable baselines help. If your company is not going to fund these items, you can at least point your user community to some tested and proven affordable options. Getting a good USB Camera and a decent headset online like will be sufficient enough to start a home office setup. You can also choose or suggest items that travel well and travel light. Just remember, the more options you allow or choose, the more your IT team members have to track and support. Those of us in IT love that.

PVC Option 2 – A kit- preconfigured and designed for this exact setup.

This is perfect for achieving an executive home office or a more scalable, reliable solution. Kits from manufactures like LifeSize and Starleaf will contain everything you need to have a high-quality video conference in your home. They usually run at $1k – $2k depending on how much quality and experience you want, which is not unlike the costs of building your own higher-quality kit. The kit advantage is you have one manufacturer end to end that has tested and supports the solution at roughly the same price. Those of us in IT love that too.

Let Perfect Video Conferencing be your technology experts to provide your video conferencing solution. Ask us for a free coaching consultation meeting today!

In this video, our CEO gives a causal approach to what can be a complex challenge. Enjoy.

About Perfect Video Conferencing:

Founded in 2009 by Randy N. Marcotte and John Killcommons, Perfect Video Conferencing was born of a commitment to integrity and partnership and the desire to create a boutique brand based on white-glove service to its customers.

What started as a simple conversation about shared values evolved into Perfect Video Conferencing. Those seeds of dedication to innovation and customer satisfaction has moved PVC from a shining star in a clouded sky of VARs to our own constellation of VAP – Value-Added Partner.

As our industry evolves, we continue to innovate and forge relationships in order to provide our customers with the most up-to-date unified communications solutions backed by the most customer-focused support, remaining true to those inspirations that are at our foundation.

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