Technical support team uses multiple monitors to increase productivity, reduce response times and elevate job satisfaction
The practice of using multiple monitors is employed by forward-thinking technical organizations and is increasingly found in non-technical departments as well. Variations of the concept include dual monitors, quad monitors or more, laptops used with a desktop monitor, and even a smartphone or tablet used as an additional monitor.
“Limiting yourself to a single monitor is like having a desk the size of a single piece of notebook paper. More digital workspace always translates into more productivity,” stated Carl Mazzanti, CEO, eMazzanti, Technologies
Why Multiple Monitors?
With a single monitor, everything is crowded in a limited amount of screen space. A busy tech might have a spreadsheet, a project management app, multiple browser windows and a customer record all open at the same time. Moving some of these to another screen can increase the ability to multitask or alternatively, to focus more intently on one task at a time by reducing crowding and distractions.
- Reduce the time spent copying between windows
- Navigate between windows more efficiently
- Compare and edit documents faster
- Increase focus or improve multi-tasking depending on the task
- Spread out work to reduce clutter
- Increase overall productivity
Adding another monitor can make your computer more powerful. The increased space makes it easier to organize your work and to get more done.
Uses for Multiple Screens
- Simultaneously view technical information, the customer’s desktop, network monitoring apps and the customer’s record when providing remote support
- Switch more quickly between apps by moving the mouse between screens instead of pressing alt-tab
- Run a customer service chat window on a separate screen from your primary task, to avoid repeated, tedious switching between apps
- View real-time production reports, shop floor video and your primary task at the same time to respond quickly when needed on the floor
- Display multiple product inventory apps or catalogs simultaneously to quickly answer customer inquiries
- Stretch a wide spreadsheet across multiple screens to see all of the columns
- Compare products across multiple screens when researching a purchase
Almost all workers prefer a dual monitor setup over a single screen. And, using multiple monitors is the least expensive way to get more screen real estate. For example: Buying two 24″ monitors costs less than buying one 34″ monitor.
Multiple Monitors in Practice
How do workers actually use multiple monitor setups? A software game developer using four monitors stated that he had the API displayed on one screen, the project management software on another, the integrated test environment on the third and two instances of the game on the fourth.
Financial industry workers display quotes and other real-time data on multiple monitors. An investment manager shopping for a house wanted an office wall large enough to hang 30 monitors on the wall of the office.
eMazzanti Improves Customer Service with Quad Monitors
The customer service employees at eMazzanti Technologies use multiple monitors, usually four per technician, to improve their performance and provide faster and more effective customer service.
The extra monitors put more information within their field of view, allowing them to work faster, resolving problems in less time. For example: they can access the customer’s desktop or server remotely while referencing a knowledgebase, the customer’s history and job ticket all at the same time.
“Adding a second monitor meant an instant 20 to 30 percent increase in productivity,” said Mazzanti. “For every monitor we added after that, we’ve seen a three to five percent improvement. You may be able to get a 50 to 65 percent bump in productivity overall.”
Employees also view a real-time productivity and customer response-time monitoring system, which is tied into their trouble ticket system, on their desk monitors and on additional screens around the office to boost performance.
The result is improved customer satisfaction. Employees attest to increased job satisfaction as well.
“We instinctively knew adding monitors would add to productivity,” said Jennifer Mazzanti, president, eMazzanti Technologies. “But we hardly expected a 50-65% jump.”
Dual Monitor Research Agrees
At least five studies in the past ten years have concluded that multiple monitors and increased monitor size improve employee productivity, including:
- “Monitor Size and Aspect Ratio Productivity Research,” conducted by the University of Utah (2008, commissioned by NEC)
- “Lightweight Task/Application Performance using Single versus Multiple Monitors: A Comparative Study,” conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology (2008)
- “Quantifying Dual Monitor Use,” EchoUser dual monitor study (commissioned by Cisco)
The Utah study shows a 44% productivity increase in text-based apps and 29% in spreadsheet tasks when switching from a single 17” screen to a dual 19” monitor configuration. The time saved equals 56 days of work per employee per year. Switching to dual 22”monitors saves an additional 10 days.
Participants in the Georgia study completed a set of tasks nearly 2.5 minutes faster using a dual-monitor setup than with a single monitor, amounting to 40 minutes saved per day.
In the EchoUser study, “participants reported less stress, strain, fatigue, and effort in performing tasks on dual monitors” while experiencing up to 23% time savings on technical tasks, potentially saving millions for Cisco.
How to Add an Additional Monitor
Adding an additional monitor may be as simple as plugging in the power and video cable to an existing graphics card. Most graphics cards support multiple monitors.
If a new graphics card is required, users can acquire one inexpensively, usually configured with a standard analog video connector and Digital DVI connector. A DVI-to-analog adapter, included with the new card, can be used to connect the extra monitor.
The Bottom Line
It’s hard to quantify all of the benefits of using extra monitors. But studies, including our own, have demonstrated that using multiple and larger displays can dramatically increase productivity and worker satisfaction. In a customer service setting that translates to faster response times and happier customers and employees. That will add dollars to any company’s bottom line.
“Thereturn on investment on multiple monitors is so overwhelmingly fast, it’s a decision most companies should have made yesterday,” summarized Mr. Mazzanti.