04.27.2021

Creating authenticity in a digital work environment

Why being real matters more than ever

Button-down shirts and buttoned-up styles stand ready to hit the office scene, as companies roll out a hybrid of in-office collaboration and remote-work schedules

While we have graduated from our initial home office crash course and moved into a dedicated workspace, the “Brady Bunch” tiled-screen and Zoom waiting rooms will continue to influence how we connect with one another during our work-from-home days.

At COHN, we believe every interaction counts. What we say. How we say it. What we are wearing. Our body language. And now, our Zoom background.

Over the past year, video conferencing threw us into the homes of people who typically would not have extended an invitation. A new business pitch was welcomed with a wagging tail in the background. We commented on art, curated artifacts in bookcases, empathized when children interrupted and laughed when cats walked across keyboards. These mishaps of everyday life crept into our professional world and softened the blows of talking into the little green light on our screens.

It was this sliver of exposed reality that made us more relatable and built an authentic connection. There was a little sigh of relief when we learned that not everyone, even CEOs, live in an Instagram-approved home. These imperfections have made us more approachable. We became more than a title. We became fellow humans.

If you are looking to keep an authentic connection while video conferencing, leave that Zoom backgrounder behind:

Ditch the virtual background: Research reported by HBR honed in on video call aesthetics and referenced a study that measured authenticity, trustworthiness and expertise. Virtual backgrounds did not pass muster. Real environments enhanced trust. More than 60% percent of respondents don’t want to see a fake scenic background.

Read between the lines: HBR also reported that most men preferred books and 40% vs 28% of women preferred framed decor.
If you are going to choose bookcases, which, after a year, have become the crutch of backgrounds, avoid over-curating and choose personalization over promotion: We all know the staged look when we see it: The doctor with a model of a heart, framed diploma and medical books.

As we gather around the conference table once again and leave behind our Zoom rooms, remember that the personal story is the most powerful one to share. Let’s set up a quick call to talk about your story and how COHN can help you tell it in the most personal way possible.

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