CHICAGO—I recently read an article in Fast Company magazine called “3 Signs Flexible Work is Strategic—and Not Just Window Dressing.” Cali Williams Yost, CEO and founder of the Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc., did a great job offering those three signs.

As I read the article, I thought to myself, “This could just as easily apply to virtual offices.” Yost pointed to research that shows the majority of employers offer some type of informal, day-to-day and formal work flexibility. The question, she says, is how to use flexible work strategically. We could ask the same question about virtual offices.

One sign Yost points to as a way to tell if your flexible work strategy is strategic or just random is this: When a business challenge or opportunity appears, managers naturally ask themselves, "How can we address this by being more flexible in how, when and where work is done?"

Great question, she offers some interesting examples you should check out, but for our virtual office purposes my advice is this: put your virtual office infrastructure in place now; accommodate the mobile workforce now. When an opportunity or challenge arises, you can just flip the usage switch according to your needs.

Yost’s second sign is: The organization consistently connects the dots between all of the tactical, siloed applications of work flexibility. I’d ask you to think about this: as you explore how to embrace alternative workplace strategies—fully explore it before you make investments in new leases or technologies. You want your virtual office strategy to complement your bricks-and-mortar strategy.

Finally, Yost’s third sign is: Employees understand how to capture the day-to-day flexibility they may have to manage their everyday work+life fit. Yost’s point is that workers know how to transition through various stages in life and career, whether it’s sick parents or sick kids or education or relocation. Virtual offices can certainly help that cause.

So, think about it, are you using virtual offices strategically or are is your virtual office strategy just window dressing?