DENVER—Even in a recovering economy, talk of employee productivity is at the fore. And a new study reveals major productivity suckers. A virtual office works against these negative workplace trends.

For example, while social media has been blamed for zapping productivity, TrackVia reports that employers looking to boost productivity should consider breaking up water-cooler talk or upgrading software rather than banning Facebook.

In a nationwide survey, 14 percent of knowledge workers cited chatting with co-workers as their biggest waste of time, followed by dealing with computer or software problems (11%). Five percent (5%) of respondents cited Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts as their biggest time waster.

A virtual office can help boost productivity in many ways, but specific to this study a virtual office can help by eliminating the water-cooler chat. Employees aren’t as tempted to sit and chat when there’s no physical office space in which to gather. In other words, out of sight is out of mind.

Think about it for a minute. Fifteen percent of employees said they spent one to two hours a week addressing misunderstandings or miscommunications with co-workers. Another 7 percent said they spent three or more hours on this in a typical week. Virtual offices don’t eliminate misunderstandings, but less chatter means fewer misunderstandings.

One-in-six (17%) said they spent one or two hours in a typical week navigating or dealing with office politics. Seven percent said they spent three to five hours, and another 7 percent estimated they spent 6 or more hours in a typical week dealing with office politics. Virtual offices definitely cut down on office politics.

Among those who spend time in meetings during a typical week, more than one-third (37%) felt at least half of the time in meetings was wasteful of their time. This is noteworthy as approximately one-in-five (21%) workers said they spent at least three hours in a typical week attending work meetings. Virtual offices tend to cut down on meetings, both planned and impromptu.

No matter what field you are in or how many coworkers you have, I believe if you have the opportunity to work from a virtual office you’ll find yourself more productive, less distracted, and without the stress of interpersonal relations that often come with the daily office grind.