Worker productivity in the U.S. fell unexpectedly in the second quarter, according to the Labor Department. At the same time, labor costs increased.

Specifically, worker productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter after seeing large improvements in 2009. Labor costs rose 0.2 percent in the quarter, marking the first increase since spring 2009.

This is a contrast to the height of the recession, when companies slashed their payroll and employee productivity rose fairly dramatically. When worker output rises, so do living standards because companies can pay larger salaries without raising the cost of goods.

How can companies combat the worker productivity slide? Companies that work from office buildings can turn to telecommuting and virtual office space.

According to a study from CompTIA, working from home boosts productivity and lowers operational costs. With virtual office technologies maturing, companies don’t have to sacrifice collaboration or a professional business image to set employees free from traditional office space. Virtual offices allow employees to work at least part time at home without skipping a beat.

Virtual offices can also help companies boost productivity by attracting the most qualified staff, no matter where they live. An employee in Los Angeles can work for a company in Manhattan using virtual office technologies that generate greater productivity by effectively extending the company’s operating hours.

What’s more, telecommuting from a virtual office can lead to higher employee retention rates, removing the cost and productivity losses associated with hiring and training new workers. Telecommuting also decreases stress, according to the CompTIA study, and potentially reduces auto emissions.

Telecommuting and virtual office space work hand in hand to improve productivity. Although this strategy doesn’t help companies in retail or restaurant industries because employees have to work on site, the headquarters of these service-oriented companies can still leverage virtual office technologies to achieve productivity gains among administrative and executive staff.

Check out this Brian Tracy video on doubling your productivity: