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Never trust your personal assistant: Survey

Office party
Oktay Ortakcioglu | Getty Images

When they're not answering calls and getting coffee, personal assistants seem to be having a great time at the office.

One in 20 small business decision makers said that their personal assistants have had sex in the office, and nearly one in 10 said that their PA had taken drugs there, according to survey results shared with the Big Crunch.

The survey was commissioned by Time etc, a company that provides virtual personal assistant services, to point out the issues and risks businesses faced by employing full-time PAs in-house.

"The most shocking part was the sex, drugs and rock and roll," said Time etc Founder and CEO Barnaby Lashbrooke. "I must have led a very sheltered life, because I've never had that stuff happen to me."

One in six reported that a PA had broken office equipment, and one in eight said they had stolen it. A full 23 percent said that a PA had told someone something that was secret or confidential, and 15 percent had used a company card for personal use. And of course, those are only the debaucherous activities that business people know about.

"That's the concerning thing," said Lashbrooke. "There must be a high percentage of people who either don't know about it or would be too embarrassed to admit it."

Time etc argues that a virtual assistant is a safer and more secure option than a physical assistant, and that for most of its approximately 4,500 clients, it's 80 to 90 percent cheaper. While a virtual assistant can't do physical tasks like getting coffee, outsourcing assistants reduces human resources costs and can be more efficient than a full-time employee, said Lashbrooke.

"When people in a small business hire a personal assistant, they don't utilize them very much," said Lashbrooke. "With a virtual assistant, they pay only for the time their virtual assistant does anything for them."

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And it turns out that a lot of small-business owners and operators with 100 employees or fewer end up doing a lot of menial office tasks themselves anyway. According to the survey, 61 percent have restocked their bathroom toilet paper, 70 percent have taken out the garbage and 60 percent have processed company invoices.

As technology makes outside services more seamless, more companies are moving towards maintaining only a core team of crucial employees and relying on providers such as Time etc for everything else, said Lashbrooke.

"These are time-poor, busy people trying to grow companies and working long hours," he said. "It's interesting how much time all these things—the drugs in the office and the parties—how much time they take up dealing with those issues when they come up."