What does your video call background say about you?

Why you might want to rethink that blank wall.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

How do you keep up the professional atmosphere of the office while working from home? And does your background have any bearing of what people perceive you during the call?

The team at Salt Lake City, UT-based Signs surveyed 1507 people who participate in video calls for work on a monthly basis, or more frequently. It wanted to understand about video call backgrounds and video call behavior.

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The survey displayed two different models in front of six different backgrounds: plants, art, bookshelf, window/natural light, candles or a blank wall.

The survey showed that every background tested ended up rating higher for making the model seem more intelligent, trustworthy, approachable, and professional. However, models in front of the bookshelf were rated as less approachable than models in front of the blank wall.

Here's why you shouldn't take zoom calls in front of a blank wall zdnet

People were most likely to say that a person looked intelligent (4.07), trustworthy (3.92), and approachable (3.89) if they were seated in front of plants on their video call

People were most likely to say that a person looked professional (3.75) if they were seated in front of a bookshelf. They were also least likely to say that they looked approachable (3.67).

People were most likely to say a person looked trustworthy (3.34) and approachable (3.82) if they were seated in front of candles than nothing at all, but they were less likely to say they looked professional compared to most other backgrounds.

Two out of five staged their backgrounds before taking a work video call. Three out of four (71%) would adjust the lighting and almost two out of three (63%) would clean or tidy up the space. Only one out of three (36%) would move to a more aesthetic location for the call.

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Almost half of survey respondents said they try to take calls by a window or in a room filled with natural light. Surprisingly, 41% try to take calls with a blank wall as a background, although, a blank wall got the lowest ratings among the four desirable Zoom call traits.

To improve video call experiences most participants cited natural light or windows as aspects that would improve their impression of someone on a video call. Regardless of the negative effect bookshelves could potentially have, 14% said they would improve their opinion of someone.

Blank walls (along with art) ranked third highest on things that would improve someone's opinion of another Zoom call attendee.

So is there an ideal video call background? Hiding your background with a virtual image might be the way to go if you really can not find a suitable place to have a video call.

Or claim lack of bandwidth and mute your video feed for the calls where you really can not be bothered to get out of bed.

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