How to Choose a Work at Home Computer Monitor


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Updated February 22, 2020

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Whether using a desktop computer or laptop for your work at home job, the size and the built-in features of your monitor or screen can significantly affect your job performance. Some work-at-home employers have specific monitor size and display resolution requirements that must be met before you can even be hired. Also, some remote positions require you to have multiple programs and windows open during your shift. Therefore, having a less than adequately-sized screen or having only one screen can make viewing all displayed information difficult.

A dual-monitor setup has become a more common requirement in work at home job postings as well, especially those for technical support positions. Having a separate monitor dedicated to keeping an eye on a specific tool or program is more efficient than switching back and forth between tabs and windows on a single screen. Even if your job does not require you to have more than one monitor, you could still benefit from such a setup.

The considerations and features that I discuss below pertain primarily to individual computer monitors but many equally pertain to laptop screens, especially specifications like resolution and display type.

Size Matters

The screen size of a computer monitor is measured diagonally in inches. In this time of technological advancement, you can find monitors that measure over 50 inches. However, most work at home job postings do not specify a monitor size. The majority of employers likely assume that most job-seekers have a monitor or screen that provides a comfortable enough view to accommodate them while they work. But there is some work at home companies and platforms that have a minimum size requirement for the positions they offer. That minimum can range from 17 inches to 22 inches. You can have the experience and skills needed for a position but fail to be hired due to not having the necessary monitor size. 

Monitor size is important primarily because many positions require multiple windows or applications to be open and accessible at one time. There is usually a window for a customer database where customers’ account information is found; a window for the company or client knowledge database; a window for the software that connects phone calls to you; a window for a message or chat program that allows internal messaging between you and your supervisors; and a window for a document creation program for taking notes during a call. Having sufficient room on your screen allows you to be able to see all, or at least, most of these windows at once. Having that ability cuts down on toggling between applications during a call, which cuts down on the amount of time of each call (call talk time is super important).

If you primarily use a laptop instead of a desktop, you likely do not have a screen that measures 17 inches or above. Attaching a separate monitor to your laptop by using a video connector like an HDMI cable will be the best way to accommodate the requirement for a bigger monitor.

The majority of computer monitors on the market today are widescreen allowing for better viewing of multiple windows and applications. However, Ultrawide monitors make it even easier to view multiple windows side by side on one screen. They provide very detailed viewing that is necessary for graphic artists and gaming.

My suggestion: Even if you are not required to have a larger sized monitor, get the biggest monitor that you can reasonably afford AND that you can reasonably fit into your office space. I am not saying go bigger just for the sake of doing so. Go bigger because in a year or two you are less likely to regret having a large monitor than you are to regret getting that smaller monitor just because it was cheaper.

Resolutions aren’t just for the New Year

A monitor’s resolution refers to the number of pixels contained within its on-screen display. Resolution is given as the width of the display by the height of the display. Therefore, a monitor that has 1600×1200 resolution is capable of a display that is 1600 pixels wide and 1200 pixels tall. 

The size of a monitor does not determine its resolution. Monitors of the same size can actually have different resolutions. Resolution is a capability that is built into each monitor and can be adjusted for preferences within its settings. Currently, the standard for  computer screen resolution is 1366×768. However, most work-at-home companies and platforms do not push for a standard resolution, and a lower resolution may work fine. 

A higher resolution may be required because a company’s website and the programs that are needed to perform your work could be designed to be viewed with a specific resolution. To be on the safe side, I recommend a resolution of at least 1600×900 or 1920×1080(which is full HD). And if higher resolutions like 2560×1440 (which is 2K) and 3840×2160 (which is 4K) are in your budget, go for it. I doubt you will be disappointed.

Note: When shopping for a monitor or laptop, the Aspect Ratio of its screen display will be listed among its specifications. It indicates a measurement of the screen’s width in relation to its height. Today’s standard aspect ratio is 16:9, indicating that the display is widescreen. On Ultrawide monitors, the aspect ratio is 21:9.

Another note: Refresh Rate, FPS (frames per second), and Response Rate are all terms you will see when researching computer monitors and laptops, and they relate to how fast images are displayed on a monitor. A recent model computer monitor will likely have rates that more than fast enough for the standard tasks of your job. Monitors with significantly fast rates are usually designed for gaming.

On Display

LED vs. LCD

LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors were some of the earliest used with computers. They are the most affordable of the current types available. They use liquid crystals that are backlit by CCFLs (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) to show images on the screen. Their older technology makes them clunkier and less energy-efficient than the newer models available.

LED (light-emitting diode) monitors are technically LCD monitors. However, light-emitting diodes are used in place of the CCFLs in order to show images on the screen, making them brighter. They tend to be thinner and lighter – requiring less space – and more energy-efficient.

Graded on a curve

Curved monitors are a newer option in the computer monitor market. I consider them to be an ergonomic tool because the curvature of both sides of the monitor toward the user allows a person to see more of the screen without requiring a lot of head movement or eye-strain. While curved monitors were likely designed with graphic artists and gamers in mind, people with spinal and muscle limitations would greatly benefit from them as well.

Can’t Touch This

Touchscreen monitors are unlikely to ever become a requirement for work at home positions. The functionality of touchscreen devices serves specific purposes on our mobile phones, tablets, and e-readers that give us ease and convenience but would not work well in the world of working remotely. Additionally, the touchscreen feature is usually found on all-in-one desktops and 2-in-1 laptops which are not always allowed by work at home employers.

Features to Consider

Let’s Connect

A separate computer monitor can be hooked up to your desktop CPU or laptop by a cable connected to one of a number of types of ports. {images}

DisplayPort connections are the most advanced of the group handling a higher resolution rate and providing the best picture. DisplayPort cables carry both video and audio signals.

HDMI (High-definition Multimedia Interface) is next in line and also carries both video and audio signals. HDMI is currently the standard connector used with computers, gaming consoles, streaming devices, and other such technology.

DVI (Digital Visual Interface) connections tend to be of HDMI video quality but do not carry and an audio signal.

VGA (Video Graphics Array) connections are pretty old-school. They are analog while the others are all digital. VGA is perfectly sufficient but images will not be as sharp as in the connections listed above.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) connections are not optimal for connecting a monitor and computer. However, a monitor’s USB port can be used to connect devices like a smartphone or tablet or for viewing images from a camera. 

Computer monitors usually have more than one of these types of ports (and sometimes more than one of the same type such as multiple HDMI or USB ports) already built into their configuration giving users multiple options to choose from as well as the ability to use the monitor with more than one device. 

Deciding on which computer monitor to purchase will depend on the ports available on your desktop or laptop. HDMI is currently the most common port found on both types of computers.

Audio

Many computer monitors have audio speakers already built in. However, some do not have that option. If you choose a monitor that does not have speakers but you want audio, you can purchase computer speakers separately. Or if you are connecting the monitor to a laptop, its built-in speakers would be your source of audio. A computer monitor may also come with ports for plugging in headphones or a headset.

Ergonomics

To cut down neck tension and help encourage better posture while sitting, many computer monitors include ergonomic features in their design. Make sure any monitor you choose can tilt forward or backward or swivel so you can turn it from one side to the other while on its stand. Height adjustability on a monitor will help the most with neck strain and proper sitting posture. Also, pivot adjustability is a helpful feature that lets a monitor be rotated from its standard widescreen landscape mode to portrait positioning.

Let it Stand or Mount it 

Space on the top of the desk in your work at home office can be hard to come by. Even a thin computer monitor can take up precious space if its stand is wide. To create more room, computer monitors can be mounted on a nearby wall or piece of furniture or the desk itself. 

VESA mounting capability allows a computer monitor to be attached on an edge or corner of your desk or on a spot other than the desk, freeing up space for writing or storing accessories and supplies. A monitor arm will need to be purchased to accomplish this setup. Make sure that the monitor’s weight and VESA pattern matches that of the arm. Mounting a computer monitor can also allow you to ergonomically place it in a viewing position that reduces strain on your eyes and neck.

Blue-light filters

Blue light is the light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, LED TVs and computer monitors. Because our society spends so much time looking directly into these types of technology, doctors warn about the effect blue light has on our sleep patterns and eye doctors, specifically, have concerns about the potential damage to our eyes. 

In the past, they prescribed protective eyewear to help cut down eye strain caused by looking at a computer screen all day. Technology itself has finally addressed the situation and provided a solution with blue light filtering. In fact, blue light filtering is becoming a standard feature for computer monitors and laptop screens.

Other considerations

A television can be a quick and acceptable alternative for adding a computer monitor to your work at home office. Keep in mind, though, that TVs are designed for distant viewing, while actual computer monitors are designed for up-close viewing.

Professional use

The suggestions that have been made have been done so with the requirements of average work at home and remote administrative jobs in mind. However, an important part of the remote workforce includes graphic artists and IT professionals whose jobs would require much more advanced options for their computer monitors than those I have listed here.

Final Notes

A computer monitor seems like a simple piece of office equipment, but as technology keeps advancing at its current pace new features and capabilities continue to be added to its overall design.

In your search for a monitor to add to your work at home office, keep these things in mind:

  1. Size matters. A large monitor may be required for your remote job. Even if it isn’t mandatory, the bigger the better if it’s in your budget and can fit in your home office.
  2. Display type and resolution are key monitor specifications. LED screens are great, and touchscreens are not. A resolution of 1366×768 is standard.
  3. How will your monitor be connected to your desktop or laptop? An HDMI connection is mot common.
  4. A monitor with or without speakers.
  5. Look for adjustability for your comfort while looking at your monitor.
  6. Do you want to place your monitor on your desk or mount it to save space?
  7. Look for protective features like blue light filtering.

As I have mentioned, only some of the companies that hire remote workers specify requirements for the computer monitor that you use to perform your work at home job. Most specify no requirements at all. However, before investing in equipment for work at home office, speak with the potential employer. It would be a good idea to include a discussion about mandatory equipment in your job interview.

-What size monitor do you have? What size do you believe is ideal? Share in the comment area!


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One Reply to “How to Choose a Work at Home Computer Monitor”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your views on the selection of a suitable computer monitor to work from home.  I already have a monitor and was looking for a dual monitor setup. Your recommendation to use ultra-wide monitor make sense as it will be much more comfortable to select various windows and work upon. Touch screen Is the need of time. Overall a very useful article, thanks for your efforts.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

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