One of the best aspects of working from home is being able to maintain a great work-life balance, and being able to set up your workstation just the way that you like it. The right desk, the right chair, and the right equipment can all help to keep you productive and comfortable while you’re hard at work. Most of us have spent our work life using just one monitor, and will likely confess that it’s worked out just fine for us. But what if things could be even better?
I recently asked members of my Facebook Group how many were using dual monitors and if they thought it was a benefit. I was a little surprised at how many responded, “Yes! I'll never go back!”
As a matter of fact, a dual monitor set up can offer you a number of great benefits that will leave you wondering why you didn’t make the switch sooner.
What is a Dual Monitor Setup?
A dual monitor setup is just that; it’s two monitors being used for one PC or laptop. It’s quite common to see those in the IT field using more than one monitor at their desk. For the longest time it was something that IT professionals and possibly only game enthusiasts considered. For gamers who enjoy PC-based games it can help them to focus on more than one aspect of the game at a time.
Today it is much more common in the workplace to see workstations being set up with multiple monitors. Whether call center professionals, data analysts, or even office managers, more and more professionals are learning that dual monitors can be hugely beneficial.
What Can You Do with Dual Monitors?
With dual monitors you can expand your workspace on your computer’s desktop. Spanning your workspace across two screens can give you much more flexibility and can help to boost your productivity. Imagine you need to have a CRM open while you’re serving your customer, but also need to be able to browse the internet, answer emails, and keep a customer chat window open. All of these applications can clutter up one work screen. If you have dual monitors running, you can simply drag some of your screens over to the second monitor. This gives you the ability to quickly access all of the must-have applications when you’re hard at work.
Dual monitors work well for any number of professionals working from home. Writers can keep Word open on one monitor, while conducting research on the other screen. Virtual assistants can maintain a calendar on one screen, while the other monitor is used for spreadsheet work.
What are the Benefits of Using Two Screens?
Every person works differently, and the key is to find the setup that will work best for your work needs. There are some significant advantages to using two screens however.
Increased productivity is the biggest advantage for any professional. Studies have demonstrated that productivity can increase by as much as 40% when multiple screens are used, no matter what your profession. Without needing to constantly switch between windows using just one screen, productivity can be sped up drastically.
Being able to use multiple programs, at the same time, is a huge benefit. Most of us have a workflow that involves the use of more than one program. With just one display, many of us need to switch between them in order to keep things moving. Dual monitors will help you to create a workflow that keeps you moving smoothly throughout your day, without needing to click over to the other programs. Perhaps you need to switch between Photoshop and Word? Or perhaps you need to keep on top of emails while you are watching an online seminar? Having a second screen reduces the need to juggle between those important parts of your job.
If you manage social media accounts then it’s great to be able to monitor various social media platforms simultaneously, while still working on creating content for your clients. You may use your primary screen for handling the bulk of your work, but you could have your social media accounts open on the other screen so they can be monitored throughout your workday.
Sharing data across multiple applications can be made just that much easier. Whether you’re copying content from one program to another, or dragging images into Photoshop, all of these processes can be readily streamlined with the addition of that second screen.
A great benefit of dual monitors is that they can be used with both laptops and workstation PCs. It’s fairly straightforward to get your dual screens up and running, even if you are a Mac used. You’ll find that you can easily connect your MacBook to your monitors, and have little to no issues getting things up and running.
Communicating with clients or your team is just that much easier. If you use Skype for video conferencing with your team then you’ll find it’s much more productive to keep Skype open on one screen, while still having full access to the other essential applications that keep your workflow productive.
What are the Drawbacks?
There are some potential drawbacks to using more than one screen. Granted, there are not that many of them, but they should still be taken into consideration.
There is more opportunity for distractions while you’re working. It’s easy enough to fall victim to the many internet distractions with just one screen, but two screens can double your chances. This is particularly relevant if you are using that second screen to monitor social media platforms. It’s all too easy to get caught up in drama, scandal, and gossipy news stories when they are flashing up on your screen.
There may be a potential lack of resources with your computer. From a purely technical perspective, the resources of your computer’s video card are going to be split between each of the displays that you have operating. It will depend greatly on your system, and on the applications that you are running, but you could just notice that there is a big drop in performance from your computer.
If you don’t have a large desk to set your workstation up, then you’ll find that not having available space can be a hindrance keeping you from getting your efficient work zone. The good news is that today’s monitors take up considerably less space than the monitors of just a decade ago. A small desk could be rearranged to make space for your dual monitors. It’ll just take a bit of careful planning.
The cost of a second monitor could be a concern for some. There is good news on this front, however. The cost of monitors has dropped considerably in recent years, but it could prove to be a concern for someone who is not entirely certain that a second screen is going to be useful.
What is needed for a Dual Monitor Setup?
Adding a second monitor is a fairly straightforward process. Adding a third screen can up the challenge factor a bit, and will have an impact on your overall system performance.
If you use a desktop computer then you will need to ensure that your video card provides ports to support dual monitors, or you will need to invest in a second video card. You can also purchase a splitter to allow for two HDMI or VGA connecting monitors.
If you use a laptop then you’ll need a port that can support a monitor, or an adapter that will allow you to use a monitor. Keep in mind that most monitors use HDMI or VGA connectors, and today’s laptops typically only offer HDMI or USB ports. A simple docking adaptor will give you a lot more flexibility, and even make it possible for you to use a second or dual monitor with a MacBook Air.
Setting up your second monitor is an easy process, with both Windows and Mac systems. Once you do have your dual monitor workstation going, you will wonder how you got any work done with just one screen.