More than 8 in 10 UK companies print documents just to get them signed

Chris PolechonskiSenior Research Executive Digital, Media and Technology
October 24, 2013, 2:49 PM UTC

New YouGov research on behalf of ARX Inc. shows that despite increasing pressure to ‘go paperless’, the vast majority of UK businesses still print documents just to get ink-based signatures.

The survey amongst business leaders, which investigates British business practices regarding the use of paper, printing and signatures in the workplace, finds that 84% of UK businesses print documents just to get them signed while 62% print additional copies just for the purpose of obtaining “wet” signatures.

The issue of printing documents just to get them signed is even worse for larger organisations – 89% of medium-sized and 83% of large organisations admit to this. Printing is also greater in some specific market sectors with the worst culprits being the public sector (83%) and financial services (82%).   

Almost three quarters (72%) of UK businesses who print documents say processes are delayed because of the need to collect signatures, with this number rising to 77% of medium-sized businesses and 83% of large organisations. 

Almost a quarter (24%) of large organisations who print documents lose more than one day per transaction just to collect signatures, rising to 31% of large organisations.

ARX’s UK Country Manager, Ronan Lavelle, says: “Of course there can be other reasons for printing out documents, but this research backs up anecdotal evidence that most businesses still print out documents because ink-based signatures are perceived as more secure and legally compliant. This completely undermines paperless office strategies and reduces return-on-investment on document and content management systems that were designed to automate end-to-end paperless processes.”

He continues: “However, an increasing number of organisations are turning to digital signatures, because they help reduce paper-related costs, improve staff efficiency, significantly shorten the signature collection process, ensure document security, and conform to a raft of internationally-recognised legislation, regulations and audit requirements.” 

See the full survey results