The only way to legally do business in the foreseeable future is through the use of digital contracts and signatures. What was previously a slow decline into obsolescence is now set to become a free fall in the year 2020. Paperwork and wet signatures are on the way out. It’s not fair, but this is a Band-Aid that needs to be ripped off as soon as possible and without showing any mercy.
The year 2020 is the ideal time to make the transition to using digital contracts instead of paper ones. Due to factors such as interruptions in traditional labour, the risks associated with person-to-person interaction, and the growth of the legal viability of online contracts, there has been a significant increase in their use, which is both desirable and required.
We will discuss the manner in which COVID-19 has significantly altered the necessity of and the legal infrastructure surrounding online contracts, as well as the reasons why the next few generations have absolutely no interest in doing business in the same way that it was done in the past.
Laws Are Expanding to Strengthen Online Contract Signing in COVID-19 Era
The fact that governments all over the globe have been pushed to strengthen the validity and legitimacy of electronic signatures as a result of the challenges posed by COVID-19 could be considered the primary motivation for making the move to online contract signing in 2019.
Because of this, in certain circumstances, it will be necessary to need digital signatures rather than wet ones on contracts in order to reduce the risk of infection with the coronavirus.
A judge has ordered Rhode Island to recognise the validity of electronic signatures. It was decided on June 25, 2020 by the district judge for Providence, Mary McElroy, that the collection of signatures for legislative nominees must move away from using wet signatures in order to reduce the amount of person-to-person contact that occurs during the pandemic. Because of this judgement, the Rhode Island Board of Elections and the state secretary will be compelled to permit candidates to gather signatures in either the conventional manner (through mail) or electronically (via the internet).
While Colorado and Louisiana have just just implemented RON, the state of Idaho is currently dealing with a ruling that is analogous to the one described above regarding the collection of signatures for ballot initiatives (a law enabling remote notarization of online contracts through electronic signatures).
Remote Work Is Making Wet Signatures Inconvenient
As a result of Covid-19, more and more medical records are being converted to digital format. On June 10, 2020, Robin Swann, the Minister of Health for Northern Ireland, made the announcement that Ireland’s health care system would be redesigned to prioritise digitising all paperwork, records, and consent forms (read online contracts). This programme, which they are calling Encompass, will centre on the creation of a single digital care record for each and every patient. This record will include all of the patient’s medical information in a single file that is compatible with other programmes and can be read by other programmes.
And considering how many different health care systems are battling with incompatible records that waste time and put patient health at risk, the consolidation of digital records will certainly become more popular in the coming months and years in more nations around the world.
Everyone is affected by health care records for reasons that should be evident. If, on the other hand, you run a company or another organisation that offers any kind of insurance or medical benefits to its employees, digitising your benefit forms (and enabling them with proper, secure esignatures) will put you in a better position in the future when these kinds of contracts are required to be signed. This is because digitising your benefit forms will make it easier for employees to sign contracts electronically. Take into consideration the fact that employees will be signing more benefit documents from the comfort of their own homes and electronically transmitting them to their health care provider as well as your company, etc., when they have the option to work remotely. You got it.
Getting ahead of the curve in terms of digital technology now will prevent you from having to rush in the years to come.
Wet Signatures Are Becoming More Difficult To Accomplish Due To Remote Work.
Even before COVID-19 came along and altered the playing field, the prevalence of remote work was already on the rise, elevating the significance of online contract signing and electronic signatures to the centre of the discussion.
If your company or organisation is still dependent on physical paperwork for contracts and other signed documents, then that is going to be an annoyance for the huge percentage of employees who work from home and do not have access to a printer or a scanner.
Those who believe that all of this will go away after the epidemic is over will be disappointed to hear that, according to a national survey carried out by getAbstract, the majority of employees in the United States want remote work to continue in some form until lockdowns are lifted.
Even before the pandemic, workers expressed interest in working from home.
Even before COVID-19, a large number of employees were already prepared to take a wage sacrifice in exchange for the opportunity to work from home.
In September 2019, Owl Labs conducted a study with surprising results: more than a third of those surveyed stated that they would happily take home a salary that was five percent lower if they were able to work from home. This was a significant amount of time before the majority of people had even heard of the coronavirus. Twenty-five percent of those who participated in the study stated that they would take a pay cut of ten percent if it meant they could work from home, while another twenty percent stated that they would take a pay cut of more than ten percent if it meant they could work from home.
When taken together, this indicates that around 80% of the workforce prioritises flexible work arrangements over a steady paycheck.
So, it seems that at least one worker uses their car to commute to the office, but was the number of jobs that could be done remotely increase before the pandemic?
Every year, more and more people are choosing to work from home.
The number of people choosing to do their jobs remotely has increased dramatically during the past several years.
Take a look back at the research that was put together by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs in 2017 about the state of telecommuting in the employee workforce in the United States (using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau). Long before COVID-19, this analysis demonstrated that the number of persons working from home in the United States had more than doubled from 2005 to 2017, going from 1.8 million to 3.9 million.
Now, throw in the fact that COVID-19 is driving the necessity for remote work, and the facts speak for themselves: the growth rate of full-time telecommuting is predicted to soar from 30 percent to 65 percent in the next five years alone.
Because more and more work is being done remotely, all paper-based organisational methods will eventually need to be digitised or risk falling behind the times and becoming obsolete. This is the next revolution in labour and industry, and if you haven’t made the switch to online contract signing by now, your business will come to a grinding halt (especially if you rely on paperwork, contracts, or signatures of any kind).
Is there a chance that this could harm wet signatures? You had better believe that because the quantity of documents that are being signed in person has already fallen by 25%.
Printers are reviled by Millennials and Generation Z.
It might appear to be a trivial matter at first glance, but members of the millennial generation, Gen Z, and even the youngest members of the Gen X generation do not own, use, or even enjoy printers in general.
The younger generation has a strong aversion to printers.
There is a good reason why that tweet has received tens of thousands of “likes.”
This perspective wouldn’t be much more than an interesting tidbit of information if so many different industries, businesses, and legal matters didn’t require the printing, signing, and sending of hard copies so frequently, and if millennials weren’t also expected to make up the majority of the workforce beginning in 2016. When all of these data are considered together, they provide a gloomy picture for the future of wet signatures.
When you factor in a printer industry that is in decline, a price of $12,000 a gallon for printer ink, plus the fact that the majority of consumer printers aren’t very good, you have a recipe for online contracts and eSignatures to replace paperwork everywhere, and they will do so very soon. They represent the only other viable alternative.
Paperwork is both expensive and taxing on the natural environment.
We won’t spend too much time on this topic because I believe that everyone understands that more paper means fewer trees, and that’s a problem. In addition, papers, printers, and scanners all require financial investment.
In order to assist your company in making the transition to online contract signing and electronic signatures, the following is a list of some data that you may use as inspiration or as ammunition at your next meeting:
Paper makes up fifty percent of all the garbage produced by businesses.
Paper manufacturing consumes 42 percent of the world’s total annual wood crop.
In the United States alone, office buildings go through 12.2 trillion sheets of paper every single year.
Pulp and paper products make up 26% of the garbage that is thrown away in landfills.
If those astonishing statistics can be reduced by even a small percentage thanks to the use of online contracts, the environment, the climate, and the bottom line of your company will all be in much better shape.
Contracts Signed Online Are More Secure Than Ever
The technology that ensures the safety and validity of online contracts is only going to improve between now and 2020, making 2020 an excellent year to make the switch to using online contracts.
The level of encryption available now is higher than it has ever been, and the capacity to monitor modifications made to documents using technologies such as blockchain has never been more developed. Whether it be for the better or for the worse, we live in an age of responsibility, and this has most definitely extended to the use of online contracts and electronic signatures.
To begin, the finest solutions for electronic signatures feature SSL encryption with 256 bits, which is the same level of digital security that is utilised by financial institutions such as banks and other similar organisations. Which means that if you are signing an online contract with any company that is even remotely current, the level of encryption that you are using is the same as the level used by the most reliable institutions run by the government.
Second, online contracts have long since adopted the digital security of encryption, which promises one-of-a-kind tracking through any kind of file storage or signature in this age of digitalization. Your one-of-a-kind imprint, location, and even occasionally digital identifiers like an IP address are now being collected and taken into consideration in the process of digital signings. Digital markers will monitor your signature wherever it travels, regardless of whether you signed using your true name, a pseudonym, or even the old-fashioned “X.” They will also provide copies of the digital tracking to all parties engaged in the transaction.
If your firm is facing a choice between traditional handwritten signatures and digital ones, the evidence suggests that you should be more open to new forms of technology. So, what exactly are you looking forward to?