Two Monitors or One Ultrawide?

Oleksandr Saltykov

At Keenethics we always think of new way of improving our productivity and in this case we drew our attention to monitors. Insufficient size of a monitor does not allow a user to have many windows opened at the same time and therefore forces a user to switch between windows which is time-consuming. Obviously we are not the first ones to think of that. Research NEC came to a conclusion that “monitor with a wide screen improves the productivity as much as two monitors combined or even more” 22-inch monitors increases performance by 30% compared to 19-inch. The highest productivity rate can be observed when working with 26-inch monitors: people managed to get 20% more done than when working with 22-inch monitor. And 30-inch monitor — is too much. The performance characteristics when working with such a monitor dropped compared to 26-inch “champion”. However working with a monitor as big as 30-inch is still a more productive than a 19-inch one.

The DELL company claims that using two monitors simultaneously, provided they were both assigned directly to work tasks and not youtube surfing, would boost an employee’s performance by as much as 30%. These claims, of course, may be somewhat biased.

Psychology professor David Meyer of the University of Michigan argues that working with multiple monitors, in contrast to concentrating on one, can negatively affect productivity. People are distracted and their work flow gets constantly interrupted.

Developer Corey House writes: “People can focus only on one thing at a time. So, why do we spend money to display several things at once? If my email or social networking channels are available at a glance, I will check them all the time. This is not just unnecessary, it is counterproductive. In a world of endless distractions, the ability to focus on one task for a long period is a serious valuable skill. One monitor means that my work — and only my work — is displayed in front and center. Distractions remain out of sight, and, therefore, out of mind. “

Accordingly, working with two monitors you need to turn your head. On the other hand, IIE Transactions claims to have conducted a survey, which concluded, that the stiff head position, which allows for the constant turning of the head, as is normally the case when working with two screens, with increased overstimulation of the anterior neck muscles, increases the risk of diseases of the musculoskeletal system of the neck.

Every man to his own opinion, so we decided to conduct our research.

The Study

Three people were selected for the study: one received a 24 “monitor, a second 25” with a 21: 9 aspect ratio and a third participant two 24 “and worked for a week on them. At the end of the period, all participants performed the same tasks using the appropriate monitors. Over the course of the next two weeks the participants will swap their monitors ,which they have never worked on before, in a row and at the end of the week they performed new tasks.


The study showed that participants who performed tasks using two monitors spent less time compared to those who used a single monitor. This is explained by the fact that opening the program on one monitor for the task, and on the other one the task itself and the search engine, the employee spends less time switching between tabs, reviewing the task, etc. On an average of 10 minutes working on one monitor, a person did about 10–15 switch between tabs, when working with two monitors the amount was reduced almost twice. At the same time, participants themselves noted that switching between tabs worsens concentration and the train of thought is lost.


Naturally, when working with two monitors and a monitor with a large diagonal, you have to turn your head more. When working with two monitors, employees make a turn of the neck up to 10 ° compared to using a single monitor. Accordingly, the difference between using one 24 and 25 inch monitors is also there, but insignificant. If you take into account that a person at work makes up to 5 head turns per minute, then the effect on health, can be insignificant, but it’s still there.

On the basis of this data, one can conclude that one 24 “monitor is an obvious outsider in a race with a 25” monitor or with two monitors. Of the advantages in working with two monitors, it can be noted: Greater productivity, which is the main issue of this study. But in favor of the 25 “monitor, you can say that when working with it there is less likely that it will harm your health, lower cost and one monitor takes up less space in the workplace. Working on 2 monitors may require massages or physical exercises to reduce neck strain, one monitor is lean and mean.

Thanks for taking part in the experiment: Volodymyr Andrushak, Rostislav Tanchak, Mikhail Fedorovich, Marina Yanul and Mikhailo Ostrovyy.

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