CHICAGO—Have you ever encountered an office bully? Apparently, the number of workers dealing with office bullies is on the rise. When you work from a virtual office, you can avoid face-to-face encounters with bullies.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 35 percent of workers said they have felt bullied at work. That’s up from 27 percent last year. And that’s a pretty high number. I believe virtual office workers would probably report a much lower instance of bullying. After all, it’s tougher to control someone when they aren’t scared of running into you at the water cooler.

The survey also reports 16 percent of these workers say they suffered health-related problems as a result of bullying and 17 percent decided to quit their jobs to escape the situation. Virtual offices are known to reduce stress, usually through not facing the morning drive and raising productivity. But not having to face a bully is also a stress buster a virtual office can provide.

Nearly half of workers in the survey said they don’t confront their bullies and the majority of incidents go unreported.  Meanwhile, 54 percent of those bullied said they were bullied by someone older than they were, while 29 percent said the bully was younger.

"How workers define bullying can vary considerably, but it is often tied to patterns of unfair treatment," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.  "Bullying can have a significant impact on both individual and company performance.  It's important to cite specific incidents when addressing the situation with the bully or a company authority and keep focused on finding a resolution."

Sure, people can still bully you from a virtual office. But I believe it’s far less likely to run into office bullies when you telecommute from a virtual office. It just changes the dynamic. If they are sending you bullying e-mails, you’ve got them documented, which is what we’ll talk about in tomorrow’s post.