Are you stressed out? Stress seems to be a common denominator in today’s world. Whether you work in an office or out in the field, stress seems to follow people around in the world of work.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I saw the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey. The survey reveals that stress is, for the first time, the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for employees. Virtual offices may be able to help solve the problem.

Think about it for a minute. There are many types of sicknesses people get that might keep them out of the office for the long-term, such chronic fatigue syndrome or tuberculosis. But stress tops the list, and the side effects are troublesome.

“Stress can often have a negative effect on the workplace, which can result in loss of productivity and disengaged employees,” says Gill Phipps, HR spokesperson for Simplyhealth. “With many organizations looking for ways to save money, employee health and wellbeing shouldn’t be over looked and should remain at the heart of the company.”

Beyond these findings, another survey from Aviva UK Health revealed that long-term sick leave causes low morale in the office. Twenty-two percent of employees feel annoyed and overworked when colleagues are absent and 71 percent said they’d be concerned about returning to work if they were off sick for a prolonged period of time.

“Our research shows that it is not unusual for an employee to be off sick for a prolonged period of time at some point during their working life,” said Steve Bridger, head of group risk at Aviva UK Health. “If this happens, both the emotional and financial strains on the absent employee and remaining team members can be huge.”

So not only is the cause of the long-term absenteeism most often stress, the fact that an employee is absent for a long period of time leads to more stress. It’s sort of a double-edged sword—it cuts both ways. A virtual office may help solve the problem.

Allowing employees to telecommute from a virtual office drives up productivity and reduces stress, i.e. the stress of fighting traffic to get to work on time, the stress of dealing with office politics, the stress of distractions while you are on deadline and so on.

Alternative workplace strategies have been heralded as a means to reduce corporate real estate costs, but these tactics can also be used to reduce stress, which can have a ripple effect on the productivity of an organization. Virtual offices and other virtual technologies can also allow employees who are out of the office long-term continue contributing to the team effort, even if it is only part time.

Check out this video on dealing with stress in the workplace: