The Benefits of Using Two Screens at Work

August 12th, 2016 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe

Aussie-broadband

In today’s mobile-focused business environment, enterprises are naturally directing their IT strategies towards mobile arrangements and tools such as the cloud. But few upgrades are being made to the hardware aspect of business technology, which is a mistake on the part of many businesses – for example, the benefit of simple upgrades such as adding a second (or even a third) screen can be easily underestimated. Adding a second screen to workstations has been demonstrated to deliver real productivity and ergonomic benefits, and best of all adding a second screen is relatively inexpensive and easy to do.

How a second screen works

Many computers, including notebooks and other mobile devices, can support more than one monitor. With a dual monitor setup, you essentially extend your visual workspace. If you are moving your cursor or a document between the monitors, the second monitor will pick up where the first ends. In other words, it is as if you have placed a second piece of paper next to the first, so that you can move a pencil across the first sheet and the second sheet in a single continuous movement.

Dual monitor setups can be beneficial in that they make detailed tasks much easier. For example, you can open up a very large spreadsheet and spread it across both screens so you can view cells in detail without straining your eyes.

Benefits of using a second screen

Using a dual monitor setup can increase productivity, simplify detailed tasks and provide ergonomic benefits. Many of these benefits are explained in more detail below.

Productivity

Many studies have documented the real productivity benefits of two screens. For example, Microsoft’s research found that productivity can increase by 9 per cent, and up to 50 per cent for specific tasks such as cutting and pasting.

Jon Peddie Research found 20 to 30 per cent increases in productivity for workers with multiple monitors. Another study quantified the benefits as being an ROI of thousands of dollars per year, and an NEC and University of Utah study found 10 per cent increases in productivity along with 20% reduction in errors.

Cross referencing information

One of the most obvious benefits of having more screen space is it allows staff members to cross reference information between documents more efficiently. Rather than having to open and close documents, or squeeze split windows into one screen for side-by-side documents, you can easily have multiple documents displayed in workable and visually comfortable sizes for comparison.

Many, if not most roles require some level of document comparison, so this is a universal benefit of dual monitor systems.

Effective multitasking

Multitasking is another everyday process for employees, and most people probably work with multiple programs and apps running at the same time. With a second screen, you can keep multiple applications in full view and switch between them effortlessly as you carry out the task.

Sharing data across these multiple apps and programs can be made much easier for certain programs. For example, you can drag photos into an app like Photoshop, which you might have open in your second screen. In a single monitor setup, the same process might require you to execute multiple steps.

Task enhancement benefits

Dual monitor setups confer real task enhancement benefits. These can vary depending on the nature of your role, your industry, and the tasks you carry out.

  • Cutting and pasting – You can cut and paste between documents much more quickly and easily because there is no need to switch between tabs or programs. For this task, it can simply be a matter of dragging and dropping, or right clicking to paste.
  • Video editing – Those that do a significant amount of video editing will reap benefits from having two or more monitors. For example, you can have two video cameras side by side in each window.
  • Taking advantage of multi-screen tools – Some programs and operating systems have multi-screen tools. For example, in Windows 10 you can customise the taskbar for each screen.
  • Collaboration and communication – Multiple screens allow you to keep your video conferencing application open in one monitor as you keep vital files open in the other. This second screen could be used for screen-sharing with colleagues for collaborative work.
  • Programming – Dual screens allow you to view and work with extremely long code much more easily.
  • 3D design – Those that do 3D design can view different but related components much more effectively with two screens.

Easy to set-up and use

Dual monitor systems are easy to set-up. There is no extra software required to run a second monitor given that your operating system will usually be able to support them. Additionally, they are extremely easy to use, so staff members will not need extra training to use a dual monitor system. Screens cost around half what they did five years ago and so another benefit of adding a monitor is the relatively low cost.

Complement mobile devices

Mobile devices such as notebooks and tablets play a critical role in many workplaces, and dual monitor systems can complement these devices well. For example, you can add a docking station or simply plug in your notebook with the right connector to start using the second monitor. This allows staff to effortlessly transition between on-the-road or client-site work, and the work they do at their workstations. It allows them to take full advantage of having a complete, full size workstation and a mobile device.

Improved comfort and ergonomics

Research has shown that dual monitor workstations can improve ergonomics, comfort levels, satisfaction rates, and the feeling of support in the workplace. Expert opinion suggests notebooks and tablets are excellent for mobile or on-site work, but they can be ergonomically less positive for employees.

Full sized peripherals such as a full size second screen, keyboard, and mouse can all be beneficial for ergonomics at work. They can improve posture, reduce eye strain, and enhance general comfort levels for staff members, which translates to better productivity and satisfactio

About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Wideband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.