When it comes to creating a modern workspace at home, it's important to balance both comfort and productivity — especially as working remotely is growing more normalized. Crucial to optimizing a remote work setting is the quality of audio and video technology, with virtual meetings now essential to the workday.
Video conferencing — via popular platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet — has become ubiquitous during the era of remote work. This is when high-quality audio and video capabilities come into play.
Although webcams are often a standard on many laptops and PCs, they can vary in quality, and not every device may have one. Whether it's part of the computer or attached separately, a high-quality camera is an essential component of a home workspace. Ideally, an office IT team should provide an employee with a company laptop that includes a built-in webcam. If that's not the case, an employee can acquire a high-resolution camera with a high-frame rate — a glass lens is also preferable over plastic. There are other bells and whistles to consider, including motion sense and special effects, but overall, the standalone camera should be compatible with the operating system on the device.
There are also non-technical considerations for optimum videoconferencing in a remote workspace. Good lighting will significantly impact the quality of a video session. While a high-quality camera may automatically adjust lightning to some degree, it's important to be mindful of the light sources in a workspace at home, whether they're constant or occasional. Sunlight, for instance, may shine through windows at different angles throughout the day, which could affect how an individual is seen on video. Natural light is ideal, but if it's unavailable, bulbs that can be adjusted to mimic natural lighting are a good solution.
Lastly, it's important to factor in the quality of a device's screen as well as how many screens are being used. Relying solely on a laptop screen may feel confining. Connecting an external monitor can lend some additional breathing room to a workspace, and attaching a full keyboard will allow some adjustability for comfort. Having more than one monitor may also enable employees to work on a document or program on one screen while conducting a video chat on another.
Despite the growth in videoconferencing and remote group meetings, there's still a lot of work conducted through one-on-one voice calls. Whether using a laptop or a PC, a smartphone, or even a landline, it's crucial that the device is always properly wired for sound to ensure both parties can hear clearly. A built-in computer mic may not be of high enough quality, and these can always vary. A remote employee should consider a separate noise cancelling headset with a mic that provides this feature in two ways: for the employee listening and for the far end so they can hear the employee regardless of where they might be. If opting to go headset-free, an employee should consider high-quality external speakers — especially if built-in speakers don’t provide adequate volume or audio quality — to ensure everyone on the call can be heard. It's also important to be mindful of ambient noise that might interfere with clear communication via hands-free conversations, whether on a laptop, PC, or smartphone.
In addition to high-quality video and audio, there are other considerations when optimizing a home workspace for maximum comfort and productivity. Ergonomic chairs and keyboards are considered a must — and when selecting a chair option, an employee should pay attention to the chair's height in relation to that of their desk. Having a large enough work surface, reducing clutter, and adding greenery may also make a workspace more pleasant.
Even with the ideal workspace at home, employees will undoubtedly need a change of scene occasionally. It can be refreshing to have a secondary space — whether a porch, a balcony, or even a coffee shop when feasible — to move to with a laptop. In these particular settings, detachable webcams and hands-free headsets especially come in handy.