The dual screen monitor may seem like a “modern” approach to productivity. But it’s been in use for more than a decade.
It’s not uncommon to see two screens on every desk of a busy office. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the entry-level administrative support or the CEO.
In the following article, we’ll be discussing the rise of this practice as well as the business benefits of using them. But first, let’s cover the logistics and some of the alternatives.
How Two Monitors Work Together
Two monitors, which also are referred to as an “extended desktop,” spread out the computer programs you’re using on a single central processing unit (CPU). Connecting one monitor to the CPU and then the second monitor allows the user to see and use multiple programs at once.
All you have to do are take the following simple steps. Ready?
- Shut down your PC
- Connect the monitors to as many video outputs as your motherboard supplies
- Reboot the system
From here, your operating system should recognize the multiple outputs. Since they’re all stemming from the same CPU, you’ll be able to use them all at the same time. Obviously, the steps for dual and multiple monitors are the same.
The advantages are clear. And we’ll get into those in a moment. But first, let’s take a closer look at the appeal of other monitor setups.
The only thing better than two monitors? Three, four, five, or six! Or so some think.
It actually takes a lot of getting used to using more than two screens. But professions that do it regularly — police, fire and EMS dispatchers, for example — find them invaluable.
For many professions, it’s overkill, though. Test it out before adding the extra cost and learning curve. Make sure the job responsibilities call for it and monitor the uptick in your employees’ productivity to see if it’s worth the switch.
What About Ultrawide Monitors?
As the name indicates, everything with an ultrawide monitor is more spread-out horizontally. Ultrawide monitors offer a few of the same benefits as the double monitor, though maybe not to the extent since space is still limited.
That’s great for those with clear vision. It can get cluttered in a hurry, though, if you’re using more than two programs.
Many PC gamers actually prefer ultrawide to the double or multiple-monitor setup. For a business office, however, you’ll probably want to stick with two.
Drawbacks of Using a Double Monitor
While multiple studies have backed the use of dual or multiple monitors, that’s not to say they’re without fault. And it’s important to know what those faults are going into using them.
In fact, knowing the drawbacks can help you plan for them and find workarounds. So before we get into the best business reasons to use them, here are the challenges of which to be mindful.
Distractions Are Always Present
Do you get distracted by the Alt+Tab or Command+Tab toggle on your single monitor? Well, don’t expect to not get distracted by the dual monitor. The temptation can actually be worse because you have more opportunities to see the multiple programs that you have open at a single point.
Less Desk Space Available
Another potential disadvantage of the double monitor is the reduction in desk space. Naturally, a second screen will need somewhere to go. And if you have limited desk space to begin with, it’s just going to get that much more cluttered once you add in screen number two.
There are workarounds, of course. For example, you could eliminate some of the other furnishings in your office or cubicle. Or, you could go with one or two smaller monitors to work across.
Monitors don’t grow on trees. They cost money, and sometimes a lot if you’re wanting the Cadillac treatment. That said, a second monitor doesn’t have to be over-the-top.
After all, you’re not asking much of it. You just need something to catch the spillover from monitor number one. But do be aware of the extra costs and plan for it in your budget.
Greater Use of Computing Power
You may not consider this a particularly troubling disadvantage. You’re not exactly asking the second monitor to split the atom.
But it will use a little extra power than you’re accustomed to, and that can lead to ongoing operational increases to your electric bill. Not to mention, incorporating the use of a dual monitor sets the expectation in your workers’ minds that they’ll always have them.
That expectation means the next time a monitor fails, you’ll have to spring for a new one. This will add to your hardware costs.
Could Be a Learning Curve Among Some Employees
The use of a dual monitor is a net-positive for productivity. Studies have shown that time and again. But that doesn’t mean your employees will be used to it right out of the gate.
Some employees — particularly older ones or individuals not used to using technology very heavily — will find the setup itself quite distracting and hard to follow. You often can overcome this by having a more tech-savvy employee working with them until they’re used to the setup. Repetition really does take care of a lot of issues in this regard.
Now that you know what to watch out for, it’s time that we looked at the benefits themselves. Why do businesses enjoy using extended desktops so much? You’re about to find out.
1. Easier on the User
The first business advantage of a dual monitor is that it makes life easier overall on the end-user. It’s ergonomically sound because the employee can see his setup from both angles.
It’s also much easier on the field of vision because it means programs and windows do not have to be condensed and harder to see in order to remain visible. It won’t necessarily mean your employees have to lose those contacts or glasses.
However, it will offer a more aesthetically-pleasing experience as they work in each program that’s required. And less eyestrain is always a good thing!
2. Better Switch-Tasking
First of all, let’s get something straight. There’s no such thing as productive multi-tasking. Human beings are horrible at doing more than one thing at a time, and you shouldn’t encourage it among your employees.
What we often think of as “multi-tasking” is, in fact, switch-tasking. It just happens quickly enough that we fool ourselves into thinking we are doing two or more things at the same time.
Why is this observation so important? It is important because the more time you can shorten between “switches,” the more productive you will be at whatever it is you’re setting out to do.
Dual monitors give employees the ability to do this. Think of the seconds your employees will save having to switch between programs that work in conjunction with one another. Then, add those seconds up over the course of a day, week, month, year, and employee, to see the true increase in productivity that it’ll give to your organization.
3. Enhanced Cutting and Pasting
One thing that happens a lot in administrative work especially is cutting (or copying) and pasting. Using a single monitor, you would need to do the following:
- Highlight the amount of text you wish to copy
- Copy it using either mouse-click or keyboard commands
- Tab to the pasting target in another window or program
- Paste the text block into the required field
With a split-screen monitor, you can simply highlight the text, click and drag it to the new program, and drop it wherever you would have it to go. The more actions like this you perform with a double monitor, the faster you’ll accomplish what you need to do.
4. Streamlined Visual Editing
Another big perk of using a dual computer monitor setup is that you can do more graphics-intensive work and audio editing by having the programs you need available at all times.
With a single-screen setup, there’s always some delay in being able to load audiovisual programs for editing when you’re moving between windows. A double monitor allows you to compare, contrast, and make changes from multiple windows at once without having to wait on the program to catch up.
5. Comparisons at a Glance
In the same vein, you may have two versions of a document that closely parallel one another but differ enough to where it truly matters which one you end up using. If that’s the case, attention-to-detail is essential.
Being able to line up both versions side-by-side on large screens and see the differences and similarities places you into the driver’s seat. It gives you the chance to make the appropriate changes and distinguish between the two when copying and pasting or attaching to an email for distribution.
6. Device Flexibility
An advantage of second monitor use that has emerged in the last decade is the ability to get free of the desktop and use your iPad as second monitor (or another tablet). Both Apple and Android platforms allow you to more easily extend your computer to handheld devices, especially when using hardware that aligns with the operating system.
This flexibility empowers you to get up and move around while still having the power of your desktop in hand. With more and more emphasis being placed on wellness, this can eliminate the silent killer of sitting for too long throughout the day.
7. Improved Social Media Accessibility
Social media still gets misused regularly. But it’s also taken on a more integral role in branding, marketing, and communications within the business environment.
The only “problem” is that you pretty much have to be active on multiple networks to ensure visibility and communications throughout your organization and the people it serves. Jumping from one program to the other just isn’t as practical.
However, if you have a dual monitor, you can bring up all your accounts at the same time. This gives you the ability to share a message on the platform of your choice whenever you want, address urgent questions and comments, and see which conversations are being had about your organization in real-time.
8. Awesome Work Meeting Flow
A great perk of modern technology is how it has opened up the world of work. Yes, to a degree it means we’re never truly “off work.” But at the same time, we can work remotely with ease, have more flexibility with working hours, and get the help that we need when we need it.
Consider for a moment the use of Skype or FaceTime. Either of these programs can run on one monitor while you access documents and notes needed for meetings with supervisors or executives.
9. Critical Resource Management
We’ve mentioned them before, but it bears repeating. Dispatchers often use anywhere from two to six monitors to see what’s going on in a given area, talk to a person in need, and communicate with first responders being sent to the scene of an accident, emergency, or crime-in-progress.
This is the very definition of effective resource management. And it’s only possible through the use of multiple monitors.
10. Gains in Overall Productivity
When you add up the benefits presented here, it results in an indisputable increase in productivity. In fact, some studies peg the increase at anywhere from 9-50 percent per employee. Once you’re gaining that type of advantage from your employees, it frees you up to make the correct overarching moves for your organization.
Dual Screen Monitor Setups Build a Better Workplace
A dual screen monitor will give your employees the power and knowledge they need to make good decisions. And the more that can happen, the better off your workplace will be.
Good luck as you consider which type of setup to enact. And for more helpful tips on technology in the workplace, check out some of our other posts.