NEC has published the results of study (funded by them and run by the University of Utah) that shows users are more efficient when working on big screens. The study apparently found that for the test subjects, moving from an 18" to 24" display reduced task completion time from eight hours to five and a half hours.
While this seems highly implausible to us, you can't argue with stats, right? Anyway, you can find the full details after the fold.
From the press release:
INCREASING MONITOR SIZE TRANSLATES TO HIGHER WORKER PRODUCTIVITY, NEC DISPLAY/UNIVERSITY OF UTAH STUDY FINDS
CHICAGO - March 13, 2008 - NEC Display Solutions of America, a leading stand-alone provider of commercial and residential LCD, plasma, and projector displays, today announced the results of a University of Utah monitor study that found significant productivity gains and cost savings when using widescreen displays instead of single, smaller monitors.
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. Over the course of a year, that translates to a savings of up to 76 days in production, or about $8,600 per employee (based on a $32,500 annual salary; for people with higher salaries, the savings is greater).
Participants in the study were randomly assigned a display sequence (a single 20-inch, dual 20-inch, 24-inch widescreen, or 26-inch widescreen monitor). They also were randomly assigned both spreadsheet and text-editing tasks. The study analyzed time performance, editing performance and monitor preferences, and factored in findings from a 2003 NEC/ATI/University of Utah multi-monitor productivity study, which compared dual-monitor set-ups with single 18-inch 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 Dr. James A. Anderson, Ph.D., 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."
The study findings can also be applied to laptop computers. Even as these types of computers replace more desktop PCs in the workplace, a larger widescreen monitor alongside a laptop easily allows for a dual-display configuration - and maximizes productivity.
In addition, the study indicated that single widescreen displays are better for editing tasks, while dual-monitor configurations can be more suitable for spreadsheet work. Moreover, people 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.
"Widescreen and dual configurations reduced the productivity gap between people of different aptitude levels," said Pierre Richer, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at NEC Display Solutions. "With many office workers spending their entire day on computers, monitor size and configurations become an extremely important component of the desktop set-up and a serious business consideration."
Screen space improves overall corporate productivity, too. A 250-employee company using 24-inch widescreen monitors could realize an additional 19,000 days of productivity a year. That number rises to 37,892 days for a company of 500 employees. The net annual cost savings after taking into account electricity and monitor costs is $2.1 million for that same 250-employee company and $4.3 million for the 500-employee firm.
"Not only does screen space impact a person's productivity, it also affects employee satisfaction at work," Anderson said. "With the costs of larger LCD displays falling, the smaller monitors (less than 19 inches) are no longer justified in terms of productivity returns and worker well-being."
A summary of the University of Utah study and a Productivity Calculator can be found at www.necdisplay.com/gowide. The calculator provides the ability to customize these productivity gains based on individual measures - such as current monitor size, monitor transitioning to, salary, and number of individuals using the monitors.