How would you like to work a mere 21 hours a week? The New Economics Foundation, or nef, just released a study that suggests this schedule should be part of the new world of work.

In part one of this series, we looked at how virtual offices might help make that possible. Today, we're going to dig into the study a little deeper as we continue to explore how virtual offices could facilitate the workplace of the future.

For example, the nef report shows that many people work longer hours than they did 30 years ago. Since 1981 two-adult households have added six hours – nearly a whole working day – to their combined weekly workload.

What's more, nearly 2.5 million people can’t find jobs today. Cutting labor to save money without changing working hours means some are burdened with overwork while others lose their livelihoods, nef concludes.

As a result of this growing inequality in working time, nef says, the unpaid components of life are suffering. Family life, neighborhood networks, time with children and quality of life for older people are all diminished, with painful results for society that sometimes get lumped together and lamented as 'Broken Britain.'

I don't think these issues are isolated to Great Britain. I am betting workers in many other nations could vouch for the validity of this survey. So the question becomes, how can virtual office space help shorten overextended workweeks and improve quality of life?

Virtual offices can help shorten workweeks by offering telecommuting opportunities. Virtual office technologies make it possible to allow employees to work from home, at least part of the time, where they can accomplish more work in less time.

At the same time, companies can reduce their overhead by leveraging virtual offices to maximize use of traditional office space. Imagine if you had half your workforce come in on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with only key management in the office on Fridays. This is possible with virtual offices, virtual receptionists and virtual assistants.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore the nef study as it relates to virtual offices in tomorrow's article.