I am a programmer in apprenticeship for 1 year in civil/public service (in Germany), already programming productive code for the company. I would like to have a second monitor for various reasons like having the code on one monitor and the running program on the other, or always having the mail program open on one monitor. At the moment I am sitting in an office with two non-programmers (all they do is handle customer tickers, really) and my trainer doesn't really program as much as me (he got other stuff to do).

The company has 300+ employees and to that point I was 100% happy and had no complaints or whatsoever. I do get paid more than the average, some apprentice programmers only get 70% of my salary. But this is only the case, because the company is forced to pay that much by law. Also from some co-workers I heard, employees are actually paid a lot below average.

The problem is, when I mentioned my intention to get a second monitor I got called crazy by one of my office co-workers, because she cannot imagine why you would ever need a second one, because one is enough for her and it would be so selfish for me to have two. Then I wrote a short email to my trainer, asking where I could request a second monitor. (It turned out it was him, who I can request and he then could forward my request to the boss). Then my trainer came in my office and argued how it is not possible because I am only an apprentice and no real employee, and that he also thinks it's unnessecary. I just said I bet there are plenty of unused monitors in our storage, and asked why I can't have one of them.

I think it should be a standard for every programmer (apprentice or employee) to have access to at least two monitors.

Since I am just an apprentice, maybe I should refuse writing productive code, since that is a task of real employees, and only do things helping me to extend my programming skills, like reading programming books? (EDIT: No, I don't actually see this as a practicable way and I wouldn't do that - also programming itself is a lot more fun than reading books related to programming.) How can I convince my company to provide me a second monitor?

EDIT 1: This question is not a duplicate of How do I request new equipment for the office? as it describes the scenario of already having a rejected request, rather than wanting to know how to approach an equipment request in the first place. Another important thing to note is, I'm not am employee, I'm an apprentice - which seems to make the situation different. Also my company is a civil / public organization; making a lot of money here isn't our first goal.

EDIT 2: The solution was to just request a second monitor by myself, rather than asking my trainer to do it for me. I didn't ask higher ranked personell, but instead the department responsible for hardware. A few days later I recieved my second monitor. The hardware-guy installed it and talked about how other older hardware just gets thrown in the trash. Now my trainer wants a second monitor too :)

  • 2
    Can you shine some light on your exact situation? As Zivildienst does no longer exist, are you a BuFDi or are you an apprentice (AZuBi)?
    – nvoigt
    Aug 2, 2017 at 12:23
  • @nvoigt I am an apprentice -> Auszubildender -> Azubi, and I work in public/civil service -> öffentlicher Dienst Aug 2, 2017 at 12:26
  • 4
    My mother used to work at the Arbeitsamt as someone just using a computer. Their stuff was always at the dull end of cutting edge technology (read: old) and their in-house IT people were not of the caring variety. In organizations like this, as an Azubi I think you have to make due with what you have. Do not bring your own stuff, that will violate policies, gives insurance trouble and might cause other concerns. Unless you find someone higher up the food chain who is genuinely a nice guy, cost efficiency will not get you far there. They have set budgets, and they don't try to be profitable.
    – simbabque
    Aug 2, 2017 at 12:34
  • joelonsoftware.com/2000/08/09/… Point 9
    – Thomas
    Aug 2, 2017 at 12:54
  • Related: productivity.stackexchange.com/q/274
    – Evorlor
    Aug 2, 2017 at 13:36

3 Answers 3


I had a similar issue when I worked in a contact center for a large software company in the UK. When I started only management had two monitors. I mentioned the benefits to the internal IT support and was laughed at, being advised people over the last five years had asked and never gotten anywhere. The business were not receptive enough to the idea of bringing in my own extra monitor, which i would have happily done (I would expect most large corporate firms to not be up for this kind of headache)

I decided to test the head of the departments open door policy and asked about the possibility. He advised if I put a case together he would hear me out. So I put together something brief. I made the points that:

  • We were doing a lot more remoting on than historically, and the need to have CRM open, error logging systems, a remote window and information articles meant that it was a lot less efficient in only having one monitor.
  • That studies have shown that efficiency of staff to handle issues quicker with multiple monitors has been demonstrated and that the cost of the second monitor was way less than the cost of hiring more staff and would enable us to handle more calls per person which would benefit the company as a whole.

I got him to agree to a trial for five members of staff, to demonstrate the benefits, before this trial was over, all contact center staff were given two monitors.

In short my advice would be:

  • Identify who the decision maker is as they are the person you need to convince.
  • Focus on advantages to the business, as it is less about making my life easier (which it did) and more about why the business would be better off giving staff two monitors that will persuade management.
  • 1
    You're getting my vote simply for pitching a trial for five members of staff. That seems like a great way to get your foot in the door. It's a small enough request that it seems pretty reasonable, and it also doesn't sound like you're making a demand. It sounds more like you're offering help than asking for it. Aug 2, 2017 at 13:22
  • THat toally reminds me of my first flat screen. I was a big fan of traditional high end monitors (and run my company). Ordered one flat screen for a trainee (who had a too narrow desk space for the big monsters). Replaced every monitor in my operation within one week after getting the first.
    – TomTom
    Aug 2, 2017 at 13:58

If I were to guess, I'd say they refuse because they don't want to set a precedent for something like this: they give you a 2nd monitor and, by next month, 80 other people will make the same request. They wouldn't have a reasonable reason to refuse those extra requests, so they would have to honor them, which in turn would generate a lot more cost for the company.

Usually, the best way to achieve such a goal is by showing them they'll save money in the long-run due to increased productivity. Look for studies and articles online that handle this subject and show them to your boss. Maybe he'll agree to let you try out with a 2nd monitor for a few weeks to see if it actually increases your output.

This applies to a lot of other equipment (office chairs, keyboards etc.), not just extra monitors.

  • 1
    First, it is indeed a good idea to give dual monitors to all developers. But if you want to avoid setting a precedent, give a reason that applies to you specifically: "I need to use this specific IDE for my current project, and it has too many small windows for one screen"; "I'm developing an application with multiple fullscreen windows, and need to see both windows at the same time"; "I need to see the browser in fullscreen but also need the Firefox Inspector window visible at the same time".
    – oliver
    Aug 2, 2017 at 14:11

Is there anyone at the company who has two monitors? If so, you could always point to them as an example. Even better, they might be willing to explain to your trainer how much better their life has been since they got a second monitor.

I wouldn't hold my breath though. I apologize and take all this with a grain of salt as I don't know much about A) Germany, B) apprenticeships and C) German apprenticeships, but unless you're expected/obligated to stay with the company after your apprenticeship ends, you probably won't get that second monitor. Companies in general are pretty loathe to devote resources on temporary employees.

My last thought is that, depending on the company's culture, it might make sense to pick up a cheap, used monitor on your own and bring it into work. It might signal to your trainer that you're serious about your job and can take initiative.

  • Most of the (employeed) IT guys do have a second monitor, yes. Aug 2, 2017 at 9:52
  • @ImpulseTheFox so the problem is not that they don't give monitors to programmers, but that they don't give them to apprentices? If so, please make it clear in the question.
    – Mołot
    Aug 2, 2017 at 12:18
  • @Mołot yes, it seems so. I think I did make it clear though: Then my trainer came in my office and argued how it is not possible because I am only an apprentice and no real employee [...] Aug 2, 2017 at 12:19

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