Multiple Monitors Drive Workplace Productivity

Anyone who works primarily on a laptop at the office understands the daily struggle of completing complex projects on a single screen, often no larger than a standard sheet of printer paper. Repeatedly toggling between tabs on a web browser, email applications and Excel spreadsheets, workers quickly lose focus and productivity plunges.

Fortunately, chief information officers are increasingly aware that equipping workstations with multiple monitors is helping drive impressive gains in employee efficiency and satisfaction. And while they may face an uphill battle in convincing skeptical chief executives of the need for hardware investments, CIOs are uniquely positioned within their organizations to set the standards for technological progress.

“Studies have shown increased productivity from using dual monitors,” Phyllis King, associate director of the Center at the University of Wisconsin said in a recent interview. “A by-product of that is more comfort, a better workload and higher level of satisfaction and feeling of support in the workplace.”

The hallmark study in this field, “Productivity and Multi-Screen Displays,” produced by the University of Utah, found that “respondents got on task quicker, did the work faster, and got more of the work done with fewer errors in multi-screen configuration than with a single screen.” Workers in the study generated 10 percent more production, were 16 percent faster in production and made 33 percent fewer errors while using multiple monitors.

That’s an extraordinary boost to worker productivity, and thanks to the increasing affordability of external displays, the investment comes at a relatively modest cost. Plus, the decline in desktop devices and concurrent rise in the use of laptops at the office is creating even more opportunity for innovation. As of 2015, roughly 30 percent of office workers now use a laptop at work, and that number is projected to continue to grow.

According to “The Rise of the Mobile Empire,” a recent study by Spiceworks, a majority of IT decision-makers believe mobile devices will replace desktop computers entirely within the next 10 years—underscoring the demand for additional monitors as well as the tools needed to connect them to our workspaces.

In response, new technologies are facilitating an easy transition to the future of the mobile workspace. The same Spiceworks study stated that, “the fact that you can now dock both laptops and tablets for a more desktop-like experience—including multiple monitors and full-sized keyboards—should continue to narrow the gap between desktop and mobile devices.”

For organizations that use laptops in the workplace, dual monitors, external keyboards, mice, and docking stations are the most comprehensive tools available for creating a complete desktop experience while maintaining the benefits of mobility that laptops provide. And as technology evangelists, CIOs are responsible for convincing skeptical executives of the value of investing in new hardware.

“I think that CIOs need to understand the cultural thing—they define the culture of their company by the technology they give to their employees,” Google CIO Ben Fried told the Wall Street Journal. “The right thing to do is to help people be as productive as possible, and the way to do that is…to understand the toolset that people who come to work every day know how to use…and want to use. To the best of your ability, you need to give them that toolset. “

With the benefits of utilizing multiple monitors in the workplace clearly evident, CIOs need to make the case for investing in new technology that promotes necessary productivity gains. Focusing solely on software innovations leaves companies vulnerable when margins shrink and ignores the enormous potential for improvements in workplace hardware.