Multiple monitors boost productivity by 35.5%

Workspaces equipped with three displays increase productivity by 35.5%, according to research commissioned by Fujitsu Siemens Computers. Employees...

Workspaces equipped with three displays increase productivity by 35.5%, according to research commissioned by Fujitsu Siemens Computers.

Employees can perform a typical knowledge-sector job much more efficiently at a three-display workspace than at a conventional one, according to a laboratory survey by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO), supported by Fujitsu.

Fujitsu said this is particularly relevant for jobs where digital information has to be processed very frequently, as is the case for scientists, editors, engineers or insurance company employees.

Overall, the study showed that larger screen areas increase productivity, and with the three-display workspace interconnected to form one desktop, Fraunhofer IAO scientists recorded increases in productivity of 35.5%.

The study was performed as part of the OFFICE 21 research project, and was supported by Fujitsu Siemens Computers which provided the test displays and PCs.

The Fraunhofer experts began the study with a test in which 67 people completed the same task at a conventional workplace with a 19in display.

The experts calculated a productivity benchmark to use as a reference, based on the time required and the points achieved for correctly solved partial tasks.

They then divided the participants into three groups: group one completed the next task using a 19in display, group two was allowed to use a 22in widescreen display, and group three was given a three-display workplace consisting of three 19in displays interconnected to form one workplace - as designed by the OFFICE 21 Information Worker's Workplace.

While group one increased productivity on the task by only 1.9% (based on the learning effect), group two increased efficiency by 8.4%, and group three were 35.5% more efficient in completing the task.

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In my field - video production - multiple monitors have long since been the standard. While it's  possible to work without them (as happens pretty regularly on far-flung locations distant from the comforts of home), single monitors create a serious time lag for our work. We can do it of course; it's just not terrible efficient or  effective

Even back in the office - not the edit suite where multiple monitors are always de rigueur - work seems infinitely easier and faster with multiple monitors, especially in this age of multitasking. Of course a single large monitor and lots of window-switching can be a great stopgap, but it's just not as good, not as fast.

I've found multiple monitors enormously helpful delivering online presentations. One for my note cards, another for the broadcast presentation itself ( PowerPoint or otherwise), a third to gather audience reactions and questions.

Of course, to be realistic, we're talking about using some serious real estate here. Not every office, front room or back, can afford that much spread. Still, when I've implemented, after an initial feeling that it's far "too much", everyone, bar none, becomes a strong supporter.
As someone who currently has 35 tabs open across three browser windows, I have to say I do wish I could have multiple monitors sometimes. But I'm not sure how this meshes with the increased mobility people want. I have a laptop all the time, and I travel with it. I wouldn't be able to use multiple monitors in the car or a hotel room.