An highly profitable investment

Some analysis on the financial aspects of using a second monitor on your computer. Dual monitoring is an investment with high payoff rates.

coinsWhen it comes to workplace ergonomics, oftentimes money matters most. And money is always short, except for a really good investment. A profitable investment is what every businessman will understand. Here is an investment that boosts both, ergonomics and finance.

The goal

In my definition, an highly profitable investment is money you get a return of an additional 25% in just a year. After that year, the investment does not vanish, but continues to pay off. The investment is socially acceptable at best: Everyone involved will feel happy as long as the investment runs. And the investment can be explained to every developer at your shop with just two words: dual monitors.

The maths

Ok, lets have some hard calculus about it. Here are some modest assumptions about the investment:

You already own a decent monitor, as you are a screen worker. Buying another one of the same type will cost you about 300 EUR, with 25% return on our investment, it needs to earn us about 400 EUR. A monitor that earns money?

Your income, without any additional costs for your employer, is at 40.000 EUR per year. If you happen to have an higher income, the investment just gets more profitable. You work for 200 days a year, according to the usual employment. If you look at the numbers, you see that you earn 200 EUR per day. The new monitor needs to earn two days worth of your work or one percent of your yearly working time.

If the monitor speeds you up by just one percent of your time, it’s a highly profitable investment.

A productivity boost by one percent

How much is one percent of your daily working time? If you work for eight hours a day, it’s about five minutes. You need to accelerate your work by using the second monitor by five minutes or one percent every day, that’s all. All the other goodies come for free: Better mood, higher motivation, lower defect rate, improved code quality.

Some minor limitations

We experimented with setups of N monitors, with N being a natural number. Three or more monitors do not pay off as much as the second one does. Hardware issues rear their ugly heads and generally, overview decreases. This might not be true with rapid context switching tasks like customer support, but with focussed software development, it is.

When using dual monitors, it’s crucial to get used to them and really utilize all their possibilities. Perhaps you might need additional software to fully drive your dual power home. You might have to rethink your application window layout habits.

Assigning a second monitor to a developer is an irreversible action. If you take it away again, the developer will feel jailed with too less screen real estate and might even suffer a mild form of claustrophobia. Morale and motivation will plummet, too.


Introducing dual monitoring to developers is a win-win situation for both the company and the developers. It’s a highly profitable investment while boosting staff morale and productivity. If there is one reason not to do it, it’s because of the irreversibility of the step. But a last word of secret to the management: You can even use it to raise employee loyalty, as nobody wants to work in a single monitor environment anymore.