NEW YORK—Did you know only 63 percent of U.S. workers are fully engaged? Those stats come from the latest Towers Watson study. The study aims to help companies understand and measure what contributes to sustained employee engagement in the workplace today. My theory is that virtual offices can help the cause.

Laura Sejen, global practice leader, Rewards, Towers Watson, says sustainable engagement is an important evolution in the science of workforce behavior—and it's an approach well suited to the unique aspects of the current work environment.

As she explains it, sustainable engagement recognizes that employees need support from their employer to continue to give discretionary effort on the job. I would argue that virtual office technologies that allow employees more work-life balance could be part of that sustainable engagement.

"This is an important wake-up call for U.S. companies if they hope to sustain their growth,” Sejen says. “The companies with high sustainable engagement had operating margins almost three times those of organizations with a largely disengaged workforce. That fact alone creates a compelling case for change."

Sustainable engagement starts with basic engagement, defined as employees' willingness to expend discretionary effort on their job. It also requires enablement—having the tools, resources and support to do their job effectively, as well as energy, through a work environment that actively supports employees' well-being.

I believe that virtual office technologies should be among those tools and resources management leverages to help workers do their jobs effectively and more productively. Allowing employees to work from a virtual office cuts down on commuting times and allows the employee to tailor his schedule to better meet the needs of work and family life through concepts like workshifting.