Could a 21-hour workweek be the answer to many of society's ills? And where do virtual offices fit into the mix? That's been the topic of our weeklong series on "Work-Life Balance and the Virtual Office."

In today's post, we continue looking at findings from a recently published study from the New Economics Foundation (nef) called 21 hours. According to the study, a 21-hour workweek could accomplish the following: reducing unemployment and overworked employees, improving life quality and lowering carbon emissions, and spurring new levels of civic engagement. Let's explore each concept, then look at how virtual offices, virtual assistants and virtual receptionists facilitate these benefits.

More Equitable Work Distribution
According to nef, a 21-hour workweek could help distribute paid work more evenly across the population, reducing ill-being associated with unemployment, long working hours and too little control over time.

A 21-hour workweek would, nef concluded, "make it possible for paid and unpaid work to be distributed more equally between women and men; for parents to spend more time with their children – and to spend that time differently; for people to delay retirement if they wanted to, and to have more time to care for others, to participate in local activities and to do other things of their choosing."

As work gets redistributed, nef suggests, incomes will become more equal, thus reducing the vast range of social problems associated with inequality.

Higher Quality of Life
With a 21-hour workweek, some may earn less but they would have more time. This translates to a higher quality of life, the study reports, because people can start growing their own food rather than buying ready-made meals, walking and cycling instead of riding cars and buses, and mending and repairing goods rather than throwing them away.

"Living life at a slower pace, with more time to do everyday tasks, would cut carbon emissions and improve life satisfaction," study authors believe. "A more egalitarian culture would also reduce the need for conspicuous consumption driven by people’s anxiety about where they stand in the social pecking order."

Finally, the nef study determines, a 21-hour workweek would give citizens more time to engage with government. Citizens need time to learn about political issues, get involved in decision-making and join and support political parties. Spending fewer hours at work would allow people to spend more time as active citizens in their local community, nef says.

The Virtual Office Tie-In
Could a virtual office help facilitate a 21-hour workweek? A virtual office could play a role in driving higher quality of life for entrepreneurs and employees who are trying to accomplish more with less. With virtual assistants, for example, you can manage your time more effectively by having someone to take care of the administrative details of running an office. With a virtual office, don't have to commute to the office, which save time, money and lowers your carbon footprint.

With remote receptionists, you can work from the road or from home and still have your business phone lines answered by a professional during business hours. A virtual receptionist can also save you time by screening your calls and call forwarding services can send your calls to your mobile device while you are on the road so you make the most of travel time. Indeed, a virtual office can help you shave your work hours without hindering your productivity, making a 21-hour workweek possible.