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It used to be that when you needed a signature, you’d print out the document and sign it. Then you’d fax it over to another party for a countersignature. They’d print the document, sign it, then send it back. You’d give it a third printing to make sure you have it “on the record.”

While this may have seemed like the best option in the past, e-signatures have become big business. They represent a better way forward. The pandemic especially has highlighted their benefits.

So, what’s an e-signature and why do you need to adopt one now?

What Are e-Signatures and Are They Legal?

You likely have legal reasons for needing a signature. The document may be a contract between you and a worker, or it might be your boss signing off on a budget. The signature represents approval and agreement. It gives legal documents their weight, and it represents authorization to move forward with expenditures or other plans.

Unfortunately, the signature is very much a relic of a pen-and-paper past. Yet there’s been a good deal of concern about how the pen-and-ink signature could be replaced in a digital world. Forging is already an issue, and if signatures are typed or turned into images that can be pasted into documents, there seems to be a serious risk of fraud.

That’s where solutions like DocuSign, EchoSign, and even Adobe come into play. Each system uses a similar set up. Within the system, you’ll tag a document, indicating where signatures are needed. You’ll then upload it to a secure cloud. The other party will sign in and add their signature.

To add the signature, they can select from a few cursive typefaces, which make the “e-signature” look more like the ink version. They can also opt to draw with their mouse. The best solution may be a tablet with a stylus attachment, which can be used to create a close replica of the person’s handwritten signature.

As to whether or not e-signatures are legal, the answer is yes. In the US, legislation has upheld e-signatures as bearing the same weight as handwritten ones since 2000. The US court system is even paperless, with judges using PDFs to add electronic signatures.

If the court system is using e-signatures, then they must be legal.

Benefits of e-Signatures in the Remote Workplace

E-signatures have been around for some time, but they’re becoming more popular for a few reasons. The first is that they save a lot of time. Instead of printing out a document, signing it, scanning it and sending it, then waiting for it to come back, you can simply upload your document and invite the other party to sign.

This is much faster and easier. It’s also greener, since it saves paper and ink. In busy HR departments, where you may be signing a lot of documents, it can also boost productivity.

It’s also more effective in the remote workplace and especially for remote hiring. Do you need your new employee to sign off on your HR policies, verifying they’ve read them? Simply upload the documents and invite them to sign. There’s no need to sign, then scan and send to an email or fax. There’s no need to snail mail documents either. In turn, your onboarding process will be more efficient.

If you require all your team members to sign off on a document, saying they’ve received updated training or read an updated policy, then using e-signatures could make the process smoother. This is especially true for your remote employees, who may not have a printer, scanner, or fax machine.

Adopt e-Signatures Today

E-signatures can improve the process of getting contracts signed and policies reviewed, especially in the world of remote work.

There are plenty of different systems that allow for use of this technology. Discover the right one for your business, and make history of this kind of busy work in the HR department.

 

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Lisa Curic

Lisa brings almost 30 years of experience to her role as the executive vice president at GroupQuest Benefits Resources Inc. She has worked for several different insurance businesses and co-founded a group benefits MGA in 2006. Lisa’s dedication and hard work has played a significant role in growing GroupQuest from two to over 40 employees in less than 10 years, and in making it one of the largest group benefit MGAs in Canada. Outside of her busy work schedule, Lisa enjoys reading, travelling, working out, cooking, and spending time with her husband and two children.

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