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Updated May 03, 2024

How Dual Monitors Can Save You Time and Money

With a dual-monitor workspace, you can boost your productivity and accomplish tasks in less time. Learn how to add a second monitor.

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Jennifer Post, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Strategy
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There’s an easy way to improve your staff’s productivity, and your employees will love it so much, they’ll never want to go back. The solution is to connect a second monitor to your employees’ computers. 

A dual-monitor setup can transform your business. In fact, a report by graphics and multimedia consulting firm Jon Peddie Research found a 42 percent increase in productivity through the use of dual monitors. 

What does it mean to have a dual-monitor setup?

With a dual-monitor setup, each employee has two computer monitors at their workstation, which makes it easier to work on multiple tasks simultaneously. It’s simple to set up and use, too.

“The majority of computers and laptops come preconfigured to support multiple monitors and do not require additional software to configure,” said Jamie Opalchuk, founder and CEO of HostPapa. “Using two displays is identical to using a single monitor. It’s as simple as moving a window or application from one display to the next.”

There’s no need for extensive tech knowledge to work with a dual-monitor setup. “Most applications remember which monitor you use so that after initial configuration, the computer knows which programs you wish to launch on each monitor,” Opalchuk said.

How dual monitors save time and money

Dual-monitor setups can streamline work and boost productivity in several ways.

Dual monitors save time on side-by-side tasks.

A second monitor increases productivity by decreasing the time it takes to complete specific tasks, such as data entry. A data-entry process can look something like this:

  1. Open your report template and locate the pertinent data.
  2. Open all related documents that employees have submitted.
  3. Go to the first document, and scan it for the information you need.
  4. Switch back to your report template, and enter the relevant data.
  5. Switch back to the first document, double-check that you entered the information correctly and open the next document.
  6. Repeat this process until your report has been compiled.

If you have three documents to compile into your report in this scenario, you’re switching between documents at least 13 times — and that’s if you need to pull only one number from each document.

A second monitor provides the following benefits for this data-entry process:

  • One view of all documents: Pull up the report template on one screen and all source documents on the second screen.
  • Less document switching: You switch between documents only seven times because you can see the report template and each source document at the same time.
  • Improved accuracy: Your accuracy improves because you can see the source document and the report at the same time.
  • Speed: It takes about 1.5 seconds to move your mouse and click to switch between documents. After you double-click, the average delay time for the next document to open is 0.5 second, totaling about two seconds. If you need five numbers from each source document for your report, a second monitor will save you 66 seconds each time you compile your weekly report.
Did You Know?Did you know
These time savings translate directly to cost savings, as employees can complete more projects in less time. Better still, frustration levels among staff are likely to diminish, and the accuracy of their work may increase, too.

Video presentations are easier with dual monitors.

A second screen can help you host productive online meetings by allowing you to track what you’re presenting while sharing your screen using a platform such as Zoom. [Read related article: Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips]

“According to my experience, presentations via Zoom often require you to share your screen with others, which makes referencing anything else on your screen difficult without allowing others in the meeting to view it as well,” said Kavin Patel, co-founder of Convrrt. “You have more control over which screen you want to share when you have a second monitor. A second screen that’s not visible to the attendees can be used for everything from meeting notes [to] email alerts.”

If you need to work on other tasks while attending a video meeting, you can have the meeting or presentation on one monitor while you do your work on another monitor. [Read related article: 10 Tips for Conducting an Effective Video Conference Call]

TipBottom line
Maximize the effectiveness of remote video conferences by choosing a provider that can accommodate multiple employees, support messaging options and allow screen recording.

Dual monitors increase workspace.

When you have ample space to arrange your tasks and streamline your work, you’ll likely be more comfortable and organized.

“Working on dual monitors has increased my workspace, and this has made working [at] my desk infinitely more comfortable,” said Sam Speller, founder of Kenko Matcha. “With this improved comfort, my productivity levels have soared. I’m able to divide my work tasks between the two screens, using one screen for referencing [and] the other for writing and inputting data into company systems.”

Did You Know?Did you know
Because stress affects productivity, creating a more comfortable, organized workspace may reduce stress levels, boost focus and foster creativity.

Can you use a laptop as a second monitor?

You can use a laptop as a second monitor or add a second monitor to your laptop using various adapters.

“With my dual setup, the laptop is close by and kept on a stand behind the monitors, and only the two main monitors are ‘active,'” said John McGhee, managing partner at Webconsuls. “It will vary by computer, but you’ll need a couple of adapters. These adapters will use whatever port the laptop has and connect to the monitors.”

Older MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops released between 2016 and 2020 have a limited range of ports. Some have only two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, while others have up to four. Specs for more recent Apple products suggest that newer models have a wider selection of ports, but check before you buy a device.

With Windows PCs and laptops, you’ll likely need a cable to connect to an HDMI or a Mini DisplayPort; cables are widely available and inexpensive.

Buying options for a second monitor

You have many options when adding a second monitor to your workstation to create a more productive workspace. Here are a few recommendations:

  • HP Pavilion 27xw: This monitor comes with an ultrawide display, flexible connectivity, HP Enhance technology, full-HD 1080p resolution and an anti-glare display with LED backlighting. It costs as little as $175. However, it doesn’t have a height adjustment or built-in speakers, and it’s a bit heavy.
  • Dell Ultrasharp U2415: This monitor has a wide-screen display, good color reproduction, a zero-frame design and a tall aspect ratio. It doesn’t have speakers or HDR support, however. Daniel Foley Carter, director at SEO-Audits.io, said this monitor’s $300 price makes it a good option for individuals seeking an ergonomic dual-monitor arrangement.
  • LG 29UM68-P: Gergo Vari, founder and CEO of Lensa, recommended this 29-inch ultrawide IPS monitor. It’s affordable, at around $200; offers a high-quality resolution; and is compatible with both Macs and PCs.
  • Samsung 49″ Odyssey: This Samsung monitor features a 5120 x 1440 resolution and uses the company’s quantum-dot technology to deliver clear pictures and colors. The monitor is curved and the width of two normal wide-screen monitors. You can split the monitor to give you two “virtual screens,” so, together with your current monitor, you can work across three monitors.
  • Acer 24″ Nitro KG241Y: Although it lacks the wow factor and the gaming performance the Odyssey offers, the Acer 24” Nitro is a full-HD wide-screen monitor with an adjustable tilt. The monitor has two HDMI 2.0 ports and a DisplayPort.
  • Dell 27″ UltraSharp U2723QE: A distinct step up from the Acer, this Dell monitor offers full 4K resolution with popping colors and adjustable contrast. If your work involves image manipulation or video editing, this would be an excellent choice for your second monitor.
  • Samsung 34″ ViewFinity: This is another superb, curved, superwide (21:9 aspect ratio) monitor from the South Korean tech leader. Offering split work areas and impressive built-in speakers, the attractive, near bezel-less display is both excellent for improving productivity and ideal for video conferencing and streaming.

Mark Fairlie and Evonne Roman contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Jennifer Post, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Strategy
Jennifer Post brings a decade of expertise to her role as a trusted advisor for small business owners. With a strong foundation in marketing, funding, human resources and more, she teaches entrepreneurs about the software and tools necessary for launching and scaling successful ventures. From email marketing platforms to CRM systems, she ensures businesses have the technological edge they need to thrive while also sharing best practices for everyday operations. Post's recent focus on risk management and insurance underscores her commitment to equipping business owners with the services needed to safeguard their businesses for long-term success. Her advice has appeared in Fundera, The Motley Fool and HowStuffWorks.
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