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Using dual monitors to increase productivity 5

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David Woolfrey

It’s hardly a secret everyday business can be hectic. Numerous tasks and an overabundance of applications and documents can make life difficult even for the most organised of workers. Still, as it turns out, there is a simple solution for all these problems – working with two (or more monitors).

While this idea is nothing new for designers and web developers, “ordinary” business people might seem reluctant to accept the fact that not one, but multiple monitors will be occupying their desk space and “get in their way” with massive wallpapers and a number of new windows, etc. This was the case in our company as well. Many team members initially believed the idea of installing two monitors was ridiculous, but it only took them days to get used to the new concept and notice the increase in productivity. Now everyone wonders how they did without them in the first place.

But before we proceed with an outline of the numerous advantages of using dual monitors, let’s briefly focus on the few potential disadvantages that concern people. The two main concerns with regard to usign multiple monitors are space and cost. With the declining price of flat-screen monitors in the past years, the costs are becoming negligible, particularly since it’s a relatively long-term investment. As for the space, most desks are capable of enduring two monitors; even for those whose space is not abundant, there are smaller monitors that can easily fit even on the smallest of desks.

Why use dual monitors?

On the other hand, the benefits are numerous:

  •  Increased productivity – Numerous studies show that productivity increases when using multiple displays. A study done by the Jon Peddie Research showed an average of 42% increase in productivity, while a study conducted by the University of Utah and NEC found a 10% increase in productivity and 20% reduction in errors (plus reduced stress) for test workers.
  •  Better productivity means more money – The Pfeiffer Report from 2005 found that improved productivity brings a ROI of up to several thousand dollars yearly.
  • Ease of use – With dual monitors, you can work and preview at the same time; manage multiple windows (even browsers, depending on what kind of work you’re performing) simultaneously.
  • A more organised desktop means a more organised life – due to increased mobility in workers, people often resort to using tablets and small laptops for work, ignoring their desktops altogether. However, this is an impediment, both because mobile devices do not possess the strength of desktops, and are difficult to organise in terms of numerous icons and documents overwhelming the home screen. For those who work with a single small screen, setting up an additional monitor is simple with most laptops. This way anyone can have an office with a dual screen, while still being able to disconnect the laptop and take it anywhere. Not to mention the fact that  with two screens, you get to organise everything a lot more easily and clearly. Multitaskers who always work on multiple projects will especially appreciate this.

Simply put having two screens is just more fun and you are able to have two of everything: wallpapers, screensavers, you name it. If you dig a bit online, you’ll find an abundance of applications that make the customisation of your two screens that much more fun. A good one is Display Fusion, which offers features like multi-monitor taskbars, titlebar buttons, fully customisable hotkeys, window management and many more features to make your work experience with dual screens more enjoyable.

♦ End

About David Woolfrey

David Woolfrey
  • Peter

    I think that customers of GCOMM should seriously consider this. A decent new display can cost as little as $250 today and ammortised over three years its about $1.40 per week. If the market research reports are correct, the screens would pay for themselves in a very short time.

    We have also recommended customers to consider using monitor arms. They are a few hundred dollars and can recover lost desk space when its an issue.

    Is there a diminishing return going to four monitors?

    • David Woolfrey

      I must admit that I was skeptical about the need for using 2 monitors to begin with. I actually found it a bit decadent. I think that lasted about a day. After that, I really became attached to having much more space while working.

      I’m not sure about 4 monitors, but I’ve now been working on 3 monitors and it works very well for me. Give me a few more months and I might be working my way up to 4. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Steve Cannard

    I spoke with HP today – all of their business and professional PC’s and notebooks are now being released with multi-monitor support. In some cases, up to three monitors natively. The new models are being released next week.

    Given how inexpensive monitors have now become, dual monitors are a no brainier as far as I am concerned. Four monitors need a specific requirement to make sense in my opinion.

  • I think in most situations, multiple monitors significantly boosts productivity levels but for me, when I really need to focus, I’ll close all open windows and applications (especially the ones that give me notifications) and use the one application in full screen mode.

    On the hardware front, I hope Intel’s Thunderbolt interface really takes off across the board. Since Thunderbolt is a 10Gbps interface, you can daisy chain multiple devices from a single connection on the PC.

  • I have to admit, the first time I’ve plugged in the second display I was immediately hooked. You just do things faster that way. And the idea of having four of them sounds very promising.

    But the ongoing dilemma is, should you use one big 30″ monitor or have multiple smaller ones?