E-signatures have been around for a number of years now. But today, they’re seeing explosive growth like never before. In the past five years, global use of e-signatures transactions leaped from 198 million to more than 4,700 million. By 2024, e-signatures are expected to grow by almost 70 percent.
The use of e-signatures has made its way into practically every industry. Rather than being an innovative, but rare solution, they are rapidly becoming the norm when signing a variety of forms of documents, including everything from service agreements to health forms to contracts.
If you’re not using e-signatures yet in your personal life or for your business, you could be missing out on some big e-signature benefits. Keep reading as we explore what electronic signatures are being used for today, as well as a few of the reasons for the big growth that they’re experiencing.
What are Electronic Signatures Used For?
Electronic signatures are used in many of the same spaces that traditional signatures are used. This includes signing documents like:
- Work contracts
- Insurance documents
- Healthcare forms
- Real estate transactions
E-signatures offer a number of benefits over traditional signatures. They allow documents to be signed and sent quickly, without having to wait on snail mail or delivering documents in person. Teams can collaborate on and sign documents from different locations around the world, which means faster completion. E-signatures also reduce the reliance on equipment like printers, scanners and copiers.
Why are Electronic Signatures on the Rise?
Once you know the many e-signature benefits, it’s easy to see why businesses and individuals are choosing them. But electronic signatures are seeing some explosive growth for a number of reasons beyond convenience, including some industry trends, societal changes and more.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the trends spurring significant growth in e-signature use.
Meeting the Challenges of a Distributed Workforce
One reason that e-signatures are seeing explosive growth is because of a rise in distributed workforces.
Remote work has been growing in popularity for a number of years, but the COVID-19 pandemic helped to jumpstart the trend in many industries. Today, 16 percent of companies in the United States are fully remote, and one in four U.S. employees work remotely full-time. Many more companies are allowing employees to work remotely part-time, or hire contract or freelance employees who work from home.
With employees working from many different locations, and sometimes even in different time zones and on different schedules, it’s no surprise that businesses need tools that allow for fast and simple communication. When employees need to sign contracts or sign off on project documents, requiring them to email, print, sign and scan those documents is impractical. Many remote employees may not have access to printers or scanners. This process can also lead to security risks if employees are working in shared co-working spaces.
Remote employees can reap many e-signature benefits. They won’t need any additional equipment outside of their device and an internet connection to sign and collaborate on documents with coworkers located across the country or around the world. This process also makes signing documents fast, which can help make up for lost time as a result of time zone differences. Additionally, freelance employees can create electronic signatures free online using a free trial to sign a new contract to avoid having to invest in subscriptions in order to work with a new client.
Faster Sales Cycles
With the increased reliance on the internet, business is moving faster than ever before. This is especially true in the business-to-business sphere. Prior to the rise of internet commerce, enterprise customers looking to start working with a new business would often need to visit that business in person. There, they might review different plans and service options. The business would draft a contract, and the individual would review and eventually sign that contract.
Today, businesses can shop online for the services that they need and review their options in minutes. If your business is still relying on printed contracts and traditional signatures, you’re likely losing business to those who have upgraded their sales cycle.
One of the biggest e-signature benefits is that it allows clients to instantly sign agreements. This reduces the risk of them shopping for business elsewhere during the long and drawn-out process of sending and signing paper documents. In one study, researchers found that using e-signatures allowed businesses to get agreements signed 21 times faster than relying on paper signatures. This means landing more business in less time, and avoiding losing out to your competition who have already started utilizing e-signatures.
Greater Productivity in the Workplace
Utilizing e-signatures doesn’t just speed up the business process on the customers’ end. It can also help to reduce the workload and improve productivity for employees.
In the same study on e-signatures mentioned above, it was found that businesses could save up to two-and-a-half hours per employee by requiring them to sign onboarding documents with e-signatures. This means that employees can get to work faster, leading to more productivity for the business.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
E-signature benefits extend beyond office and business operations. Electronic signatures can also help offices to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
The average office employee in the U.S. uses more than 10,000 pieces of copy paper every year. In addition to the paper, they are also using ink, toner and the electricity needed to power printers and scanners. E-signatures eliminate all of these. Documents can be created, edited, signed and sent using a device — no printing or scanning is required. Not only does this allow your business to do its part to protect the environment, but can also help to reduce your office expenses.
Avoid the Cost and Delay of Aging Equipment
Broken, jammed or malfunctioning office equipment is a regular cause of delays in the workplace. Copiers face a number of common issues. Paper can jam, lines may print randomly and ruin your pages, toners and cartridges run out and more. Each of these issues not only wastes resources like paper and ink but can also cause your office operations to grind to a halt until they are solved. If you’re relying on printed documents and signatures, your employees will have to wait to send or receive these documents until the equipment is back up and running — and even then, they may face a line of other employees waiting on the same thing.
E-signatures allow your office to reduce its reliance on outdated and aging equipment like copiers, printers and scanners. Not only does this mean fewer delays in the process, but it can also reduce your reliance on traditional office spaces. This may pave the way for allowing more remote work or distributed workplaces.
Who Should be Using eSignatures?
Many of the e-signature benefits we’ve outlined above are ones that businesses in any industry can take advantage of. Whether your office is already working remotely or looking to make the move, utilizing e-signatures is an important step towards allowing your employees to collaborate from anywhere. Businesses that do still use a traditional office can use e-signatures to reduce waste and cut costs in that office space. And any business that uses an on-boarding process can jumpstart new employees’ productivity with a little help from digital on-boarding documents and e-signatures.
Why Now is the Right Time for an E-signature
Many of the trends outlined above are here to stay. Companies and clients alike will continue to turn to the internet to do business, and remote work is only likely to become more popular. A push for environmentally-friendly practices in the office isn’t going away, while aging office equipment like printers and copiers will need even more costly repairs in the future.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to start investing time and effort into making e-signatures a regular part of your routine operations. Doing so will not only allow you to reap e-signature benefits now, like signing more contracts and speeding up processes but will also ensure that you’re prepared in the future. Whether another pandemic forces your employees to work remotely or your competition makes the switch to e-signatures and speeds up their own signing process, already having a precedent for e-signatures in place will allow your business to quickly adapt.
Getting started with e-signatures before you need them will also allow you to find the right eSignature solution for your business. jSign is a leader in e-signatures. We specialize in providing best-in-class e-signature solutions to businesses in any industry. Our modern dashboard makes it fast and easy to receive, sign and send documents from any device. This means that as long as you have a device with an internet connection, you can sign and send personal and business documents. jSign also offers a variety of pricing options so that you can customize your e-signature solutions. Check out our plans today to get started.