Study: Bigger computer monitors help you get things done

Researchers from the University of Utah conclude that larger screens mean better productivity for workers--to a point.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg

Attention, employers: buying larger computer monitors for your workers might help them get more work done.

That's according to a study done by researchers at the University of Utah. They tested how long it took people to edit documents and copy spreadsheet information over an 8-hour period, meant to represent a typical work day. Three different setups were used: a computer with an 18-inch monitor, one with a 24-inch monitor, and one with two 20-inch monitors. (Note: The study was commissioned by NEC, which produces monitors, but the lead researcher said it didn't matter what type of monitor was used.)

Those assigned to work on the 24-inch monitor worked 52 percent faster than those using the 18-inch screens, and those using the dual 20-inch monitors worked 44 percent faster than those using the 18-inch. But don't think throwing a 36-inch flat screen in front of your employees will get them moving at double speed. The study also found that using anything larger than 24 inches caused a dip in productivity. The study was conducted from July to December of last year and had 96 participants.

Overall, researchers found that using a larger computer monitor at work could save 2.5 hours per day. However, that's assuming employees are working 8 hours continuously, and not, say, taking a lunch break, or checking Facebook, or reading Digg.