Times are a bit strange at the moment, most of us are stuck in our homes uncertain of when life will be able to return to normal. No one knows when that will be and no one knows what a new “normal” will look like, but we have proven that we are able to adapt to working from home and catch up with friends remotely through use of video calls and facetime.
Ok, so it isn’t quite the same as face to face contact, but it does provide a sense of normality during crazy, unprecedented times and it helps us to connect with the people around us. So, if you haven’t yet embraced the current uprising of Facetime or Zoom calls, it’s time to get video call ready.
There can be a lot to get used to with video calling as opposed to going into work for an actual meeting because the lines are blurred between the office and the home. You treat your home casually – as you should – it is your place to relax after all, and the office is all business, so you tend to reflect that in the way you look. Facetiming your boss from home should be relatively easy but what if you don’t know what to wear, or how to have your hair or whether to put makeup on or not! Then you have to think about your setting, what will they be able to see? What is the lighting like? Are there any potential distractions around you?
Well, we know that in our lifetimes nothing like this has ever happened before so we are forgiven for our trial and error approach to working from home and dealing with video conference calls, but it would be handy to have some kind of routine that means you will be facetime ready for the next meeting!
Let’s start with your morning routine. It probably looks a lot different to how it did before and it may be a lot more relaxed, especially if you have the luxury of time. But it is important to keep to a good routine for your own sanity and well-being as well as having complete confidence in yourself so you are physically and mentally ready for any video calls that may pop up during the day.
So whether you make breakfast first or prefer to go for a nice morning run or perhaps falling into the shower to wash away a heavy night’s sleep is your day starter of choice, try to get into your normal routine and stick at it during your usual working days to give you that same sense of purpose. Remember you don’t have the terrible commute to work to contend with so use that time wisely to get yourself facetime ready and feel great at the same time.
Treat yourself to a good exfoliating scrub and some foamy shower cream that wakes you up and makes you feel really refreshed for the day ahead. I love a menthol and eucalyptus shower scrub as it really awakens the senses and makes me feel alert and ready for work, but you can choose some scents that do it for you in the morning to start your day right.
Go for a light breakfast that will give you energy, think things like porridge and oats with fruit or a banana and a cup of green tea. Just enough to give you the boost you need but not too much that you will feel sluggish and want to go back to bed! Set a good standard for your breakfast and your day will follow along easy enough.
Now I know that not everyone likes to exercise in the morning, but I find it so important to start the day off right and get those energy levels up so I am more than ready for whatever the workday throws at me, including the inevitable facetime calls with my boss and colleagues. But when I say exercise, I mean stretches, light cardio and maybe a bit of yoga thrown in and not a 10km run followed by some weight training, but whatever suits you and your routine is highly advised and if a long run is your preference then use the extra time to push yourself, have virtual competitions with friends or enjoy a run at a social distance with other people you know.
I always find that doing some exercise helps me to look more awake and not like I have rolled out of bed and stumbled toward my laptop. Even on days where I may not be involved in video conferencing, by looking awake and feeling more energised, I reflect this in the quality of my work. So, if you can afford to spend a bit of time doing this in the morning and haven’t before, try out some slow stretches, some deep breaths and some balancing exercises to get yourself started.
By grounding yourself in various stretches and poses and focussing on your breathing, you start to feel like you are more in control of things and this is a fantastic thing to feel right now. As I said, your morning routine is yours to play with, but find a balance between relaxation and energising tasks and when your workday starts you should feel more empowered and in a good place physically and mentally to get your work done. Then its onto the physical aspect of your day, making yourself look the part ready for a video call or conference in style.
This can be a problematic area for a lot of people right now, with so many hair salons still closed all over the world or appointments being few and far between in the ones that are open, a lot of people are taking matters into their own hands and giving themselves haircuts and styles that they may end up regretting once things are back up and running again.
I definitely don’t want to endorse this at all, but sometimes a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do! But in the interests of keeping your hair neat and tidy for your facetime calls, there are a few things you can do with the products you have at home and who knows, you may even get a bit more practice at some temporary summer styles that you can take back into the world with you once this is all over.
When it comes to work calls, unless it has been explicitly stated by your boss that you must present yourself in a work dress manner, enjoy the freedom that you have been granted to get a little playful while keeping your hair tidy and presentable. I don’t know about you, but my hair is getting longer by the second, my roots are on show and my hairdresser definitely has some split ends to contend with soon. But I definitely go for a casual updo when it comes to video conferencing. This way it keeps hair from your face, means you won’t be fiddling with it and it won’t block your eyes for that all-important eye contact when speaking to someone about work.
I like to keep my work facetime locks simple and understated with a classic semi-messy bun and I use a thin scarf to tie around the top which doubles up as a smart accessory and the perfect cover for my two-inch long unhighlighted roots! When the workday is over and I want to facetime friends, I simply let my messy bun loose and use some olive oil spray on the ends to define my waves and keep my split ends in check. This is perfectly easy to do, and you can go from daytime smart/casual to evening glamour in seconds!
You probably have your usual makeup routine down to a fine art, and if like me you are stuck for time in the mornings before work, it involves a little tinted moisturiser, brow gel and some mascara and you’re pretty much good to go. Of course, this isn’t my preference, I’d much rather spend a little more time making myself look and feel great before work with a look that reflects my personality, but sometime I just have to work with what I’ve got.
But now I’m working completely from home and not involving myself in much face to face contact, my makeup (like a lot of you at the moment) only really comes out on special occasions. And what such occasion might that be these days? A Zoom conference call or facetiming friends.
Makeup used to mean something else, and hopefully it will once again, or perhaps we are all giving our faces that much needed break from lotions and foundations and powders to give ourselves a healthy glow that we are more comfortable with leaving the house for a world of human interaction. Who knows! But what I do know is when I have a video call scheduled with my boss I have to carefully think about what I’m putting on my face and how.
There are a few obvious differences between face to face contact and virtual calls. One of them being that when you talk to someone face to face you don’t have your own photographic reflection staring back at you from a little box in the corner! This can be off-putting at first and sure, you can sometimes turn this off on a video call, but it is a different way of talking to someone and seeing yourself talk back to them can make you quite self-conscious. Is that what I look like when I laugh? Do I always look this pale? Is that lipstick on my teeth?! The horror!
When speaking to your boss over a video conference it is important to put these anxieties to bed so that you are fully focussed on the task at hand and not on the way you look. So, I always keep my makeup smart, clean and understated. Save the lipstick for Zooming with friends and just do enough so that you are confident in your skin, your brows are tidy, and your eyes are visible without lashings of eye makeup and mascara.
Try to remember that the camera on your laptop, tablet and phone may distort your face shape, the angle may not present you the same way as a straight reflection in the mirror would and it can adjust the lighting in your home office to dim skin tones or highlight darker or brighter makeup to be more vibrant than in real life.
I start with an eye serum to wake me up, some moisturiser for a healthy glow and some matte primer to hide the shine that camera tends to illuminate. I keep my skin tones even with foundation and keep eye shadow neutral with browns, coppers and peaches so as not to become a colourful distraction. A simple winged eyeliner does the trick and I keep my eyebrows in check with tinted gel and some pencil to fill in the gaps and keep them tidy, then finish off with some mascara and I am good to go.
This usually represents me in a professional work format, and it is easy to add to later on for a facetime call with the girls in lieu of drinks and dinner after work. So, to round up, keep your makeup light and breezy, avoid distracting colours and remember lighting is everything!
This one is a bit more difficult when it should be easy. No one likes to be at home in full work attire; I change into the comfiest clothes as soon as I get home from work usually as no one is going to see me and I can be myself: relaxed and settled. But working from home is different, as technically you are still on the clock and that video call might pop up at any moment. I don’t usually have to deal with facetime calls on the spot, they are usually pre-arranged but occasionally a colleague or my boss requires some clarification that calls for a face to face call with screen sharing, so I like to make sure I am dressed for the occasion.
Not only this, but it is really important for our mind to differentiate between work and homelife so that when you do switch off the laptop, the home can become a relaxing place once again. There is a huge psychological impact in working from home and what you wear can put you in a certain mindset, so dressing for work is not as ridiculous as it sounds, whether you have to partake in video conferences or not.
But if you do, try to stay comfortable, you may not have the luxury of a proper work desk complete with spinning office chair, so wearing a skirt that has give or trousers that don’t squeeze you in the wrong places is very important. Of course, when you do video calls or conferences it is your top half that gets seen but it can’t hurt to be prepared. I always say to wear a blouse, shirt or smart t-shirt and avoid distracting motifs or cuts so that when the video call comes along you are ready.
There is no need to go splashing out on a whole new wardrobe to work from home and you can usually mix and match outfits that you wore before with no problem, but when times are strange like they are now, a little online shopping pick me up is always welcome in my world!
Setting the Scene for Facetime Calls
Your office or workspace at home may be a little nook in the corner of your bedroom or could even be the dining room table. Wherever it is, choose your lighting wisely and check your backdrop for distractions or heaven forbid, embarrassing childhood photos that you definitely don’t want your boss to see!
You don’t need to redecorate your room for the sake of a video call, but it is great to create a space that you enjoy working in for your own sanity and mindfulness. I tend to have a nice oxygenating plant nearby, a nicely lit lamp and enough desk space for my laptop, notebooks and all-important cup of coffee. If you have a window nearby, keep it open during the day to keep fresh air coming in and don’t forget to get up and move around for breaks every now and then.
Video calls, facetime and zoom conferencing may take a bit of time to get used to but creating a happy space to work from will start to reflect in the way you present yourself once you get into a routine that works. Don’t be afraid to have days where makeup and wardrobe don’t even enter your mind, but definitely pick yourself up with a little glitz and glamour whenever you feel like it, don’t just keep that side of you hidden and saved for video calls. Trust me, it will make you feel like a million dollars and it will help get you through this crazy time!