The concept is good, find a way to stay focused. However, I think a single monitor is often less productive and can lead to more app-dragging and time-wasting habits than if you had two monitors with a few handy keyboard shortcuts for window placement.
I also definitely do not agree that dual screens in a workplace is an “illogical allure of extremes.”
Having a second screen is handy specifically as a secondary use. In the past I have worked with four screens, daily. I currently use two screens constantly, but keep my 13" laptop screen handy as a third.
Both of my external displays are 24" as well, I found that it was the best size years ago. Although 27" are nice as well, I’d never go bigger. I keep one of these displays in the center of my view, this is important. I have my main screen.
My main display perpetually had my IDE, Atom. Unless I am writing documents or a lengthy email, then I will move that over.
The second screen is just that, I use it for displaying information, documentation, keeping my browser handy for quick references, my terminal handy for commands, my chat apps and email apps, my debugging tools.
I cannot find a time when I do not need to have Slack open and visible, as an engineering lead I need to respond to questions constantly, assist other developers through technical decisions, provide technical crash courses on aspects of a codebase that a developer hasn’t worked with before, schedule meetings, perform code reviews. This all requires useful communication tools, that I can use, alongside a browser, IDE, or screen share.
If I were to limit myself to a single screen, as I do whenever I work from my laptop, I find it difficult to get things done I as I have to change my workflow and I end up constantly alt/cmd-tabbing between applications. Mac makes this even more annoying by having to use cmd+` to change windows of an application. When on a single screen, I waste a lot of time just getting to a window I need. Having a dual screen keeps the window I needed visible, handy, and accessible.
I am unaware of any engineer who doesn’t need to perform a (constant) search or lookup docs for things that, while yes are simple and they might be able to recall it if they had to, is far easier to search for. Doing this alongside an IDE reduces time, and helps them read it while comparing it to their own code.
If your problem is that you waste time reading emails, or perform other time-consuming habits when you have a second screen, the screen is not your issue. It’s your habits and your focus.
I believe a single screen might work well for specific workflows or jobs, but for the majority of computer-based professionals, I believe we’ll stick with preferring our dual screens.