HR Strange But True!
February 04, 2009

A recent study found that a widescreen computer monitor or dual-monitor configuration can improve employee productivity with certain types of work.

Before you rush out to get a new monitor, keep in mind that the study was conducted for NEC, a maker of computer monitors, by the University of Utah .

The researchers randomly assigned a computer display sequence (a single 20-inch, dual 20-inch, 24-inch widescreen, or 26-inch widescreen monitor) to study participants. They also randomly assigned both spreadsheet and text-editing tasks to the participants.

The researchers analyzed time performance, editing performance, and factored in findings from a 2003 study that compared dual-monitor set-ups with single 18-inch traditional-format monitors.

The researchers found that productivity is likely to increase as screen size increases, but there is a point where screen space becomes so large that productivity gains will flatten and eventually decline.

The study found that moving from single 18-inch traditional-format monitors to 24-inch widescreen displays reduced the time it took to complete a task from 8 hours to 5-1/2 hours. In addition, employees can perform tasks 44 percent faster using two 20-inch instead of a single 18-inch ones traditional-format monitor, according to the study.

The study found that workers with less experience in the applications performed better on widescreens for both editing and spreadsheet tasks. Meanwhile, those with intermediate or advanced skills executed tasks equally well on widescreens and dual displays, and much better than they did on traditional-format monitors.

“The study revealed that large widescreen or dual-monitor configurations are recommended for use in any situation where multiple documents of information are an ordinary part of work,” said James A. Anderson, the lead author of the study and a professor of communication at the University of Utah . “Given a workforce with varying editing and spreadsheet skills, the 24-inch widescreen appears to be the most solid option overall.”

Source: NEC

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