BOSTON-Is working from a virtual office on the homefront an efficient alternative to the traditional office job or a productivity killer? This is a question that’s been asked—and answered—time and time again with regard to virtual offices and alternative workplace strategies. Now, CareerBuilder’s survey on telecommuting is offering both sides of the story.

While 17 percent of Americans who telecommute at least part-time spend one hour or less per day on work, 35 percent work eight or more hours, according to the study. And 40 percent of telecommuters work between four and seven hours per day. The survey questioned about 5,300 employees.

In another finding, Americans are able to work from home on a more regular basis post-recession. Ten percent telecommute at least once a week. That’s up from eight percent in 2007. This has played out in the uptick in virtual offices and the maturing technologies that support telework, like web conferencing and cloud computing.

"With mass adoption of smart phones and advanced network technologies, telecommuters are connected to their offices like never before. As a result, we're seeing more companies embrace the work-from-home option and more workers putting in full-time hours while at home," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

"However, to avoid situations where telecommuters aren't putting in the necessary time, managers need to be clear about expectations and establish daily objectives. The autonomy of working from home can be very rewarding so long as it doesn't diminish productivity."

Telecommuters are largely split as to whether time spent at home or at the office is more conducive to high-quality work. Thirty-seven percent say they are more productive at the office, while 29 percent report they are more productive working from a virtual office. Thirty-four percent do not see a difference, stating they are equally productive at home and the virtual office.

Clearly, entrepreneurs and small business owners have plenty of incentive to make the most of working from home using virtual office technologies. If they don’t work, they don’t eat. Although there are distractions on the home front, there are also built-in advantages, like saving time commuting to an office, saving money on traditional office space, and tapping into virtual office technologies and virtual office services (read: virtual receptionists and virtual services) that make you more productive.

Conclusion: Virtual offices bolster productivity when people are motivated to work. At the end of the day, slackers will be slackers no matter where they office.