Bigger is better yes, after years and years of people saying â€œit is how you use it that countsâ€, bigger is better. Of course, I am talking about screen size, and resolution to be more particular.
In most offices today people spent a fair amount of time working in front of a computer. Iâ€™d argue that if you have an office related job at all you spend a significant amount of time in front of a computer, working with some data on the screen. This is typical in the workforce today and really is only a modernized version of the working world of a generation ago. That is to say, with the exception of the people who work building and supporting IT there has been no general explosion of positions because of the computer. However, just about every job has had its switches, dials, general ledgers, typewriters, record keeping, etc, replaced with the desktop computer.
The computer is no more than a tool; it is neither a magic bullet for productivity nor a device that will thrust you, your products, or your company ahead of the pact. Much like the wrench is a tool to a plumber, the computer is a tool in the office. The problem with that is we often under utilize and deploy these tools. Which brings me back to my â€œbigger is betterâ€ argument.
Our interactions with a computer are limited â€“ typically â€“ the mouse, keyboard, and the monitor. While it is easy to get an ergonomic keyboard if you need one or a different mouse if necessary but the monitor is always a point of contention. This is directly related to the cost of the item. Bigger monitors are not seen as a cost effective expenses in any company. Nevertheless, Iâ€™d argue that they are the most important aspect of using computers in todayâ€™s office since the box (the one with all the hardware in it) is often over powered for the general computer user. Not only that but a highly reusable item that can span the life span of two or more computer boxes.
In reference to my job which is an IT position, I use a 19â€ widescreen monitor to do my work. Since at any point in time I can have a dozen or two dozen windows open at a time it is easy to fill the space on the screen. To make the most of the physical space I increase the resolution on the screen providing me with maximum usage. It is not difficult for me to operate at extremely high resolutions like 1900×1600. That only goes so far, in all honesty I can say I need two monitors. Ideally, I could use 4 of these monitors stacked in a 2×2 configuration. This would eliminate the need to fumble looking for a particular window that contains a process I am monitoring, instructions I need to refer, or that email that just came in.
Computers process information extremely fast and at one point in time just having a computer in the office allowed you process information faster than before. Now everyone has a computer at their desk and the speeds at which we do a particular task has normalized again. The bottleneck now is the user ability to access information quickly to make decisions about it. This can be alleviated by using larger monitors at high resolutions in order to present information to the user in a timely manner. I donâ€™t know how many times I have been monitoring a process and completely forgot about it among the dozen other things I was doing because the window became buried in the taskbar.
Recently a friend of mine who works as an accountant at a western university obtained a 30â€ monitor in order to view large spreadsheets, general ledgers, and so forth. This was so he could see related information at the same time and make a better judgment about it. A simple task, but one that we have trouble with by constantly switching windows. It is even worse if you switch to the wrong window and have to re-reference the original information.
Obviously, this does not apply to every single person, in every single job, but if you work in a position that makes decisions about these kinds of investments then talk to your employees. You may find that the people who spend a lot of their job working at a computer require more. Such as your accountants, IT staff, etc, but your administrative staff may not have such lofty requirements.