eSignatures saw a huge rise in 2020 as pandemic forces business changes

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Andrew Rybalko)

There has been a significant shift in the way that UK businesses formalize agreements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a DocuSign survey of 1,000 UK professionals, signing agreements digitally has become the norm for 79% of office workers.

Taking a more granular approach to the research, DocuSign found that 55% of respondents had signed an agreement digitally over the last year using a computer, with 23% using a mobile device. 

Demonstrating the extent to which digital tools are dominating this aspect of business-life, just 18% said they had signed an agreement with pen and paper in the previous 12 months.

Casual contracts

As well as embracing more digital tools, the physical place where agreements are being signed is also changing. According to DocuSign, 42% of UK office workers have signed an agreement from their home office, with 22% doing so while watching TV, 12% while in bed, and 10% while in their car.

The pandemic may also have done long-term damage to the old-fashioned handshake that once accompanied any business agreement. Following the COVID-19 crisis, 32% of UK workers visualize a contract being signed on an electronic device first, with just 6% stating that a handshake is what first comes to mind.

The research on eSignatures provides further evidence of the importance of digital tools in the era of social distancing. Even once the pandemic subsides, eSigning is likely to remain popular given the extent to which remote working trends are expected to continue.

“The past 12 months have challenged businesses in ways none of us thought possible,” DocuSign’s Chief Operating Officer, Scott Olrich, said. “To stay operational, companies have had to continue to adapt and become more resilient—and we’ve seen a large proportion benefit from digitizing the way they sign and manage their agreements with customers, partners or employees. The ability to do business from almost anywhere, on almost any device, has never been more important.”

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Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.