Home » DTM

According to Gartner, contract life cycle management (CLM) is the “process for managing the life cycle of contracts created and/or administered by or impacting the company. These include third-party contracts, such as outsourcing, procurement, sales, nondisclosure, intellectual property, leasing, facilities management and other licensing, and agreements containing contractual obligations now and in the future.”

 

CLM spans the entire process of generating contracts, the workflows of approving and negotiating changes to contracts, the signing (or executing) of the contracts, storing and archiving the executed contracts, plus tracking and audit trails to retrieve contracts and review their lifecycle of approvals, iterations, and signatures.

 

If contracts are critical to your business or organization—as most contractual obligations are—then a secure, reliable solution for managing the contract life cycle is imperative.

 

Why CLM?

CLM technology solutions help manage the complex and evolving nature of contracts—making your organization more efficient at producing, executing, and upholding contractual agreements.

 

Key functionality to look for when assessing CLM solutions include visibility (a dashboard or overview of where individual contracts are in the life cycle), integration with communications and storage systems, automation (as few contracts start from scratch—most are iterations of previously created agreements), and of course change tracking to readily see how contracts changed during negotiations and what final version was executed by all parties.

 

Top 3 Benefits of CLM:

  1. Save time in contract workflows: From creation to approval to negotiation to execution
  2. Improve transparency across your organization, partners, suppliers, and customers
  3. Improve profitability by saving time and costs via operational efficiencies and reduced errors, while also surfacing revenue opportunities in contracts

 

According to a Villanova University article, CLM solutions can help organizations:

  1. Avoid litigation from contract non-compliance – A major issue in many contracts is compliance. If contractual obligations are incomplete, the potential for litigation can increase.
  2. Save money – Penalties for non-compliance, missed opportunities from special terms and rebates, and payment errors incurring fees and penalties can be avoided with good contract administration.
  3. Deliver greater value to customers – Fulfilling and exceeding customer expectations through proper contract performance enhances an organization’s value and leads to future business.
  4. Reduce costs and time involved in contract administration – Streamlining processes in contract administration has a direct affect on labor time and costs.
  5. Prevent contract managers from functioning as contract administrators – Contract managers, dealing with details and delays, are best doing just that, while contract administrators focus on higher-level management activities, such as developing important relationships with suppliers and customers.

 

Why ZorroSign for CLM?

ZorroSign is built entirely on a blockchain architecture that protects identities and data—uniquely authenticating users, encrypting communications, and securing digital data immutably through its lifetime . . . including contract data.

 

Specifically, ZorroSign’s platform was developed on private, permissioned Hyperledger Fabric. Hyperledger emerged as an open-source collaborative effort, hosted by the Linux Foundation, to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies and improve trust, transparency and accountability.

 

With this technology architecture, ZorroSign can manage contracts as it manages all digital documents, providing:

  • Digital Signatures to quickly execute legally binding contracts
  • Patented 4n6 (“forensics”) token to ensure contract immutability
  • Workflow automation to quickly build templates and approval chains
  • Document management system (DMS) leveraging Hyperledger Fabrics secure distributed ledger
  • ZorroFill deploying machine learning to streamline form completion

 

ZorroSign’s platform can be accessed via PCs and mobile devices, allowing your legal department, operations and procurement teams, and sales teams to efficiently generate, negotiate, communicate, and sign agreements. And with our blockchain architecture, contracts reside on an immutable DMS where they can be saved, searched for, and managed easily from a single, intuitive user interface.

 

Unlike any other CLM solution, ZorroSign seals contracts with our 4n6 token—capturing the complete audit trail and the contract’s DNA. The token is encrypted and contains information on all the details about the transaction including timestamps, user authentication, documents and attachments.

 

Only the 4n6 token:

  • Allows ZorroSign customers to manage permissions as to who gets to see what level of information about the transaction and the contract
  • Stores the ZorroSign security encryption certificates, which—unlike other digital security certificates—never expire!
  • Can verify, validate and authenticate both digital and printed (paper) version of electronically signed contracts

 

Our unique platform supports CLM to speed digital transformation—reducing paper costs and logistics, supporting environmental conservation, and improving operational efficiencies for in-office and remote teams.

 

Plus ZorroSign delivers the automation capability necessary to proactively and methodically manage contracts from creation and negotiation, through execution, compliance and renewal. To learn more about CLM and how ZorroSign can support your organization in managing contracts, contact us today!

Add blockchain security for documents & workflows.

 

ZorroSign’s API services let you digitally sign documents, request signatures, automate your forms and data, and much more—all from your existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

 

Development teams can readily integrate our digital signature REST APIs into any app, website, mobile app, or embedded system that can make HTTPS requests. With ZorroSign API, your organization can quickly extend and enhance your document signing processes and easily implement document security and authentication capability.

 

ZorroSign exposes our secure digital signature functionalities via four key APIs: User Service, Workflow Service, Subscription Service, and Token Service. We also provide notification services to handle all the alert service routines.

 

These APIs allow you to quickly integrate with the ZorroSign digital business platform (DBP) to

  • Communicate subscription data
  • Create and retrieve workflow documents
  • Create custom workflows—including document processing, self-signing, labeling, etc.
  • Leverage a workflow dashboard
  • Generate and read 4n6 (“forensics”) tokens
  • Download blockchain based certificate and audit trail

 

Why ZorroSign?

 

ZorroSign provides the ultimate security in digital signatures. Our platform was built on Hyperledger Fabric—the world’s most trusted blockchain—ensuring that all aspects of all transactions are captured on a private permissions-based blockchain with an immutable, non-reputable record.

 

As governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals move to paperless environments, the promise of distributed ledger technologies offers an appealing new approach to digital connections and security. “We are proud to deliver a mature blockchain solution for digital signatures that is cost-effective and more secure than any encrypted e-signature technology that relies upon public-key infrastructure for security credentials,” says ZorroSign co-founder and CEO, Shamsh Hadi. “ZorroSign’s platform efficiently leverages blockchain to protect online identities and documents such as business agreements, government files, healthcare records, and other legal evidence stored in digital formats.”

 

Digital signatures can speed a return on investment (ROI) by accelerating agreements, contracts, and transactions and facilitating the secure exchange of digital documents. A digital business platform (DBP) that readily complies with international privacy and security standards and regulations is critical in today’s zero-trust world across companies, organizations, partners and borders.

 

Low Pricing for Integration

 

ZorroSign’s API pricing falls into four tiers, determined by how many document sets your organization might use per year. For example, a Bronze license supports up to 500 document sets per year, while Gold and Platinum licenses support many more and our Diamond API license can be customized to the scale you require. All ZorroSign API packages include unlimited templates and workflows, unlimited fields, mobile, authentication, embedded signing & sending, personalized branding, real-time reporting, bulk send, and intelligent forms. Visit our Pricing page for details.

 

Learn More

 

We offer multiple paths to learning more about integrating ZorroSign’s platform:

  1. Review our API documentation where we provide guidance and code samples for user services including multifactor authentication (MFA), user management, and passwordless login, plus subscription services, workflow services, token services, notifications, and more!
  2. Request a copy of our API QuickStart Guide — a short developer manual showing you how you can integrate our REST APIs, which are more secure with light data payloads into any app, website, or embedded system using HTTPS requests.

Or contact us today to discuss how you can quickly bring ZorroSign’s secure blockchain-based digital signatures and 4n6 token into your enterprise software!

“Modern digital technology that supports information sharing,

communication, collaboration, and learning are

central to daily living and to the function of government.”

~Teri Takai, Executive Director at the Center for Digital Government

 

Local governments in the United States such as counties, municipalities, and school districts serve the public with codified processes for business, education, health and safety, law enforcement, property development, transportation, utilities, and more. The sheer volume of legal agreements, licenses, permits, records, and reports are daunting to manage, and digital solutions are becoming more and more necessary to effectively administrate public services.

 

Further, local governments know the value of operating more efficiently both in cost-savings (by reducing administrative costs in paper, printing, reproduction, storage, etc.) and in resource allocation (by being able to serve more constituents with the same resources). Technology solutions that speed clerical work, reduce errors, and lower administrative costs can readily generate a return on investment for the public.

 

As local governments strive to move paper administration to digital environments, privacy and security become top priorities. Beyond simply digitizing forms, processes, and records, these government organizations must:

 

  • Validate end users as constituents engage digital public services
  • Authenticate digital data as it is moved between users and offices
  • Secure digital documents for storage, archiving, and retrieval—ensuring immutability with non-repudiation audit trails and post-execution fraud/tamper protection

 

Digital Benefits for Local Governments

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated local governments’ need to move to digital services.

 

“When offices were forced to close, many local governments were unable
to conduct business without physical access to legacy systems,
holding up everything from building permits to license renewals
and access to land records.”
~Doug Harvey, VMware Head of U.S. State & Local Governments & Education

 

As local governments add remote administration capabilities, the promise of digital transformation is tremendous. Large municipalities to the smallest administrative districts can leverage digital signature and document management software to protect the chain of custody (CoC) for documents and securely review, approve, archive, and retrieve:

 

  • Across-agency or inter-department agreements
  • Architecture and engineering drawings/schematics for construction permits
  • Benefits administration programs and processes
  • Certificates of occupancy
  • Court decrees and orders
  • Facilities management forms
  • Housing programs and building permitting management
  • Human resources processes (e.g., employment agreements, expense forms, payroll sign-off sheets, etc.)
  • Licenses for alcohol, auctions, business, construction, farming, plumbing, restaurants, retail, valet services, etc.
  • Logistics and procurement processes
  • Permits for building, carnivals and fairs, exhibit and trade shows, explosives, fireworks, gas, hazardous waste, hospitals, lumber, medical facilities, nursing homes, public assemblies, waste handling, etc.
  • Public health programs administration
  • Purchase agreements for public assets, products, or services

 

ZorroSign blockchain digital signature, a secure, encrypted platform provides a means for local governments to digitize records—eliminating duplication errors, streamlining clerical work, decreasing costs and time spent, and ensuring public record immutability for legal enforceability and transparency.

Digital Transaction Management (DTM) helps to increase efficiency and productivity by simplifying paper-based processes and making them digital. The result is higher accuracy with fewer errors, improved controls, and customer satisfaction resulting from simplified process. When paper-based business transactions are converted into digital processes, we enjoy the benefits of efficiency, cost and time saving, and helping to save the environment by reducing the use of paper. Perhaps the biggest business benefit of going digital is the increase of productivity and the ability to monitor and track the progress of digital signature transactions at every step and in real time. There are three simple and easy steps to transacting a document digitally.

 

Document Preparation: This is the creation and preparation of digital documents that will control the transaction. In this first step, the process of preparing a document for signature could be as simple as filling out a form by hand or in digital format, or as complex as something that needs a formal document collaboration and compilation solution or document preparation service such as the one offered by paralegal staff. Once the document has been prepared, the second step in a digital document transaction is the execution of the document.

 

Document Execution: In the second step the documents, contracts, attachments, supporting documents, etc. are signed by one or more authorized parties in a particular sequence (workflow), filling in critical information. Security provisions are enforced and meta data is associated with signatory to ensure the authenticity and validity of each step of the digital documents’ transaction. Once a document set is completed by all parties, step three, is where the post execution process can begin.

 

Post Execution Processes: The post execution process includes securely storing the document, protecting it from tamper, alteration, and theft. In case of a dispute, the record must contain a detailed audit trail and chain of custody of the transaction for its legality and validity to be proven. Finally, only the authorized person should have access to and visibility into the document set. Post execution processes apply to both digital and printed versions of the documents.

 

Now that you understand the three steps of a digital document transaction it is important to understand why ZorroSign is the gold standard in post execution processes. ZorroSign’s patent pending 4n6 (forensics) token uses a private permissions-based blockchain to deliver verification, security, audit trail, chain of custody, along with other features. Users who access a ZorroSign’ed document through appropriate permissions can scan the 4n6 token and request access to view the documents history. With the 4n6 token, the parties in the workflow always have access to the document. Access to any external parties is limited to viewing the content of the document, its attachment, and audit trail and is based on permissions approved by the originator of the transaction.

As many businesses have started to adjust to the ‘new’ normal, remote working teams are surging in number. For many employees, working from home can be a struggle with added distractions and little experience prioritizing—especially if sharing a home with a spouse or children. However, it is important to understand that with the right tools, remote work teams can outperform their in-office counterparts. Remote work teams often enjoy reduced stress from not commuting to work and increased availability as a result of a more flexible schedule. This article will discuss 10 tips for increasing a remote team’s productivity.

 

Implement the Right Tools

For any workforce, being equipped and trained to use the right tools for the job is hugely important. Having the right tools can be the difference between a highly efficient team and a team that struggles to communicate and accomplish its goals. When choosing tools for your workforce, remember that one size doesn’t fit all and having tools that integrate well with one another can help increase efficiency. Below is a list of five tools all organizations need to secure and implement within their remote work teams in order to maximize productivity and efficiency.

  1. Collaboration Platform
  2. Meeting Software
  3. Scheduling Software
  4. Digital Signature & Digital Transaction Management Software
  5. Hardware & Internet

For further details  on the five tools, please read our blog article, Five Tools for Increasing Efficiency When Working from Home.

 

Set SMART Goals

Goal setting is like using a maps app to get to a new destination. The maps app allows you to anticipate each turn until you reach your destination. Setting goals allows you to clearly define steps needed in order to achieve the goals. In order to develop effective goals, they should be SMART:

  • Specific – state what you will accomplish using action words
  • Measurable – ensure you can evaluate if the goal has been accomplished, think data
  • Attainable – Is the goal within the scope of your team? If it isn’t then consider changing
  • Relevant – Does the goal improve the business?
  • Time-bound – set a deadline and stick to it

Setting SMART goals is a great starting point to ensuring transparency for the team and ensuring everyone is working towards common goals.

 

Maximize Mornings

Getting the day off to a productive start is a sure-fire way to increase the odds of an overall productive day. Setting times with team members to check-in each morning can help set the tone for the day and ensure every team member understands how they fit into the day’s goals.

 

If you are a team that is in relatively close geographic location, consider establishing a daily virtual check-in. This morning check-in can be a quick stand-up meeting where everyone briefly says their top three priorities for the day. Remember, setting the tone at the beginning of the day can help employees who are having trouble with productivity start their day off on a positive note.

 

However, maximizing mornings to set the tone for the day doesn’t mean taking away remote teams’ flexibility. Remember that working remotely also allows for you to work when you are most productive, so you should take advantage, if possible.

 

Encourage Dedicated Work-spaces

If you are a manager or supervisor of a remote team, you have little control of your employee’s work-spaces. However, setting guidelines and providing tips to employees about creating a workspace that is conducive to increased productivity is a great way to show you are invested in your team’s success. Here is a short list of recommendations for a dedicated workspace:

  • Identify a dedicated workspace that is self-contained. If you do not have the space for a self-contained space, set-up your office in an area with as few distractions as possible.
  • Make sure your workspace has as much light as possible, preferably natural light.
  • Utilize multiple computer screens.
  • Limit clutter in your workspace.

Having a dedicated workspace will not guarantee increased productivity. However, a dedicated workspace can be a very effective tool if you share your home with others. When you are in your dedicated workspace it signals to everyone in your space that you are working and should not be bothered unless there is an emergency. A dedicated workspace helps you set boundaries with other people in the home while you work.

 

Stick to a Routine

Creating a routine when working remote can be a very effective way to increase productivity. A routine allows for you to manage your time appropriately while also being intentional about scheduling time for things you want to accomplish, and not just work tactics you must accomplish. When developing a routine, here are a few things to include:

  • Get dressed and prepare for your workday.
  • Set office hours.
  • Schedule breaks.
  • Create daily goals and achieve them.
  • Don’t forget to include professional and personal tasks in your routine.

Developing a schedule and sticking to it is a great way to hold yourself accountable for meeting daily goals. Sticking to a routine also makes it easier to get your day started. If you share a home with someone, a routine like making a cup of coffee before starting work can help signal to anyone in the space that you are about to start working and need to be left alone.

 

Stay Focused, Work on One Thing at a Time

Many people feel that they are wonderful multi-taskers, and this may be true. However, multitasking is proven to decrease productivity. Staying focused on one task at a time increases efficiency and allows your brain to stay focused on one thing, increasing the capacity you have for the task at hand. While you may be able to multitask, it is important to understand that it is proven to decrease efficiency and even accuracy. If you want to truly maximize your productivity, work on one task at a time and then move on once that task is complete.

 

Promote Transparency

Transparency is paramount for remote work teams. When remote work teams have full transparency all team members have the necessary data and information needed to effectively complete their work. Full transparency reduces unnecessary meetings and keeps track of all team members performance. When possible ensure all team members know where to go for pertinent information—collaboration software helps greatly.

 

Over-Communicate

One of the pitfalls about working with a remote work team is the inability to just pop-in on someone in the office and get an impromptu update on a project. In order to make sure all team members who have a vested interest in your projects have a clear understanding of where you are with each tactic, it is extremely important to over-communicate project status. Consider both formal and informal project updates. You may want to send an email detailing where you are with a project and what is still needed, then perhaps use a collaboration chat tool to get any necessary feedback.

 

The point is that over-communication will always be more effective then not communicating enough when working as a part of a remote work team.

 

Don’t Forget Employee Development and Training

Within a remote workforce it is easy to overlook the need for employee development and training. Often with traditional office work environments, companies will arrange for training opportunities on-site. With remote workforces it is sometimes overlooked that employees should continue to develop their skills and seek training opportunities.

 

Companies should either provide continuing education and training for their employees or create a system that encourages employees to continue to develop their skill set. Investing in employees through training is an excellent way to create loyalty and show the company is vested in its employees’ professional development.

 

Recognize Achievement

When employees work from home, feeling isolation and disconnected from the company and team can occur. These things can lead to feelings of inadequacy and feeling unappreciated. Managers and team leaders can help by recognizing the achievements of their team members—big and small.

 

Celebrate wins as a team and encourage all team members to join in when recognizing employees who are achieving excellence is a great way to show your team that you notice their accomplishments and appreciate their hard work. You’re never too busy to say, “Great Job!”

 

Conclusion

Improving the productivity of a remote work team can be difficult at first. With the proper tools it is possible to have your remote work team working even more efficiently than your in-office work team.

 

Looking for an easy way to gain efficiency today? Through June 30, 2020 ZorroSign is offering our digital signature solution free for three-months. Sign up today for your free trial subscription!

If your office becomes inaccessible for any period of time, are you prepared to ensure business continues as normal? Having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place is a great start when preparing for the worst. When COVID-19 started to spread throughout the globe, many companies were not prepared to shift their workforce to a primarily work from home team.

 

Early on, ZorroSign executives made the decision that all employees across the globe would work from home until further notice. This decision was easy to make, as the organization had a solid BCP in place, so invocation was seamless.

 

Develop a Business Continuity Plan

 

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is when a company develops a plan for preventing and recovering from any potential harm to the company; knowingly or unknowingly. These could include fire, flood, natural disaster, cyber attack, criminal mischief, global pandemic, etc. The goal of the BCP is to prevent unnecessary damage to organizations assets or personnel and to ensure company assets are recovered and personnel can quickly get back to work after a disaster or crisis.

 

Wondering if your company is on par with companies around the globe when it comes to disaster preparedness? A recent survey conducted by AvidXchange determined that only 37% of 500 companies surveyed had the appropriate technology in place to abruptly shift employees to telecommute, also known as working from home, in the event of an emergency. This survey was eye-opening and demonstrated a large gap in BCP. Below are a few of those gaps:

  • Only 61.8% of businesses have a BCP in place.
  • 48% of businesses that have a BCP in place can only operate two to three weeks with their current plan.
  • 19% of businesses reported none of their employees have the right company provided technology to work from home.

Based on the survey results above, it’s easy to see that most companies are not prepared for the current global pandemic. Below are some key elements that all companies should include in their BCP.

 

Business Continuity Plan Elements

 

Each company’s BCP will be different and unique to the individual business. However, there are four main elements every BCP should include, this will ensure that all business operations have a prevention and recovery plan. The four elements are:

  1. Identify purpose and scope – Clearly identify and state the purpose and scope of the BCP. Include all business operations and detail any exclusions.
  2. Determine responsibilities – Clearly identify who has permission to invocate BCP, along with what employees have authority before, during and after an incident. These identified employees should be given clear roles on the Business Continuity Response Team (BCRT).
    1. Documentation – identify a document owner that will be tasked with keeping track of BCP approvals and change history for company records. The document owner should be responsible for ensuring BCP procedures are reviewed and tested regularly.
    2. Change management – BCRT leaders should control the message and get employee buy-in for the BCP. The BCP document owner should publish it where it is easily accessible to all stakeholders in both digital and hard formats.
  3. Develop Business Continuity Plan – Information in the plan must be understood by and accessible to everyone in the organization, and details of how and when the BCP will be invoked should be included. In order to create a thorough BCP a few items should be addressed:
    • Define potential risks to the company and conduct a business impact analysis.
    • Identify how potential risks will affect company operations.
    • Identify and implement safeguards to mitigate identified risks. Be sure to identify how to recover critical business operations.
    • Practice and test out safeguards to ensure they accomplish the desired outcome.
    • Continually review and update the BCP so it is always up to date.
  4. Communicate and Train – Clearly determine how, and under which circumstances, the pre-identified BCRT will communicate with employees, stakeholders and emergency contacts. The last step is to thoroughly train the BCRT, as well as employees.

 

Quick List – 5 Actions to Take Today to Prepare for Tomorrow

 

ZorroSign takes business continuity very seriously. Having 100% of the workforce fully functional independent of location is the standard for the company’s BCP. Here are a few things we recommend any company without a robust BCP implement immediately, in order to prepare employees for an emergency that could result in an extended time away from a physical office:

 

  • Company Issued Equipment – Issue all employees company laptop at start of employment. Desktop computers are not useful in emergency situations, as work location may abruptly change, not allowing transition of equipment that is not easily portable.
  • Collaboration Software – Implement use of team collaboration software; this allows employees to effectively and efficiently communicate, before, during and after a disaster. Microsoft Teams is an example of a great tool. During a crisis where employees change their work location abruptly, having a communication collaboration tool is essential.
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) – A MDM tool is software used by IT departments that allows them to identify what company issued mobile devices are accessing, their location, remotely lock a device, and even wipe a device clean if lost or stolen. MDM capabilities are very important with an increase in remote workers, as this can protect company intellectual property, as well as physical assets. An example of an MDM tool is Microsoft Intune.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) – Ensure all employees are using a VPN when accessing office network and resources. A VPN is the easiest way to protect company data and be cyber aware, while protecting data security.
  • Employee Internet Connectivity Audit – Make sure all team members have good internet connectivity. This can be accomplished through a simple employee survey. Work to help employee’s with unreliable internet connectivity to either use a secure mobile hot spot or identify solutions for increasing their stability of a reliable internet connection.
  • Cloud Hosting – Host all critical environments in the Cloud. This will allow full continuation of ongoing projects independent of employee location. Cloud hosting should include disaster recovery options.

 

Communication & Training

 

Having a BCP in place is a great start to having a business being able to function during a disaster. However, without proper communication with all stakeholders and employees, and without proper training, a company’s BCP will not be effective. It is important to communicate the plan with all employees, not just those on the Business Continuity Response Team. Training employees on what to do in the event of an emergency and when to execute the BCP is a key part of a successful plan.

 

A tip for maintaining a usual level of communication and efficiency when working remotely is to have team leads prepare daily task lists that include all project dependent variables and ensure they are assigned to appropriate employees. Conducting quick stand-up meetings at the start and end of each day via a collaboration software tool like Microsoft Teams can also identify employees that need a little extra help to achieve their targets. Restricting all communication to trusted tools like Microsoft O365, Outlook and Microsoft Teams can help protect the company’s intellectual property.

 

Conclusion

 

Having a Business Continuity Plan is kind of like purchasing insurance, you invest in it hoping to never have to use it. The unprecedented impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the business world is reassurance that a BCP should be a part of all business’ operations plan.  Having a strong BCP in place could mean the difference between being in business once the crisis ends and continuing business operations as usual and not experiencing negative business fallout do to a disaster. It’s not too late, if your business doesn’t have a BCP in place start the process of creating one today. If you have a half-baked BCP in place, take the time and build your plan out completely. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 epidemic is impacting every part of business and society, so we encourage you to stay safe, work smart, stay home.

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted businesses across the globe. Many employers have shut their offices and employees are now working from home to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus. For many, the idea of working from home is a dream come true, for others, working from home is a stressful proposition. In this blog post we will discuss tips our own ZorroSign team uses to stay productive while maintaining work/life balance when working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Develop a Routine

 

Developing a morning routine can help get your day started and productive. Think about what makes you most productive and include that in your morning routine. Does exercise invigorate you, if so, include that in your morning routine. Do you need coffee to get started, maybe that means you set an automated machine to make your coffee at just the right time. Getting dressed for the day can be a good way to not only physically prepare for working from home, but it can also signal to those you live with that you are working and will engage them once you are finished with your workday.

 

Create, use and stick to a daily to-do list

 

Developing a list of everything you need and want to accomplish in a day is a great tool for ensuring you are accomplishing your goals for the day. Try and create a list of things you need to accomplish each day, and then stick to it. Separate the list into personal and professional items. Schedule your workload around the list that you created. Creating a to-do list and sticking to it can be the difference between a productive day and a waste of a day.

 

Set rules of engagement with those you live with

 

When you work from home and live with other people it can be difficult to set boundaries during work hours. Set clear rules for everyone who shares your space about when you are available and under what circumstances you can be interrupted. If you have a partner/spouse clearly discuss expectations about communication during work hours. Maybe a kiss and a hug signal you are about to start work and will engage with them at the end of your workday or while taking a break. If you have children, set expectations on noise level and if you are unable to have childcare make sure to have activities arranged to keep the children busy while you dedicate yourself to work. Predefined rules of engagement will make working from home easier for everyone in your household.

 

Set Office Hours

 

Set regular office hours. Work with your manager to determine “online” and “offline” hours. For many employees this can mean setting base hours, indicating the hours you will always be reachable. If you work with an international team a split day may increase efficiency and productivity. A split schedule may also give you the flexibility needed to handle personal business during the day. Communicating clearly with your manager and colleagues regarding your office hours can prevent you from receiving phone calls during family-time.

 

Schedule Breaks

 

Working endlessly without a break can lead to not just a lack of creativity, but strain on the eyes and body. Give yourself predetermined breaks through your work schedule. We recommend taking a 15-minute break about every 2.5 hours, along with setting aside time to eat lunch away from your desk. During these breaks physical movement is very important, so get up and get moving. Take a walk around the house or block. If the weather doesn’t permit outdoor activity jog in place, stretch and do jumping jacks. Physical activity is very important for remote workers, as a sedentary lifestyle can lead to health problems.

 

Setup a dedicated office space

 

Having a dedicated office space can help with work/life balance. When you are in that space that signals to you and anyone you share a home with that you are working and to respect the rules of engagement for work hours. In an ideal world you will have a self-contained office, but if you don’t have the space, try and set up a space away from distractions, but with a lot of light. Having multiple screens increases productivity so consider this when setting up your space. If you are self-employed, consider setting up a partition on your hard drive for business and another for personal use. If you work for a company, make sure you only use company equipment for work.

 

Maintain social contact with colleagues

 

Depending on if you are an introvert or extravert working from home can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and a general feeling of disconnect. Maintaining professional social relationships with colleagues can be very important. Utilize team collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack if your company has them in place. Some organizations may decide to setup general interest channels within their collaboration tool in order to promote additional employee communication. Social contact with colleagues can help build trust, so don’t shy away and work on genuinely getting to know your colleagues.

 

Stay organized

 

An organized workspace provides for reduced visual stress and removes unnecessary distractions. It may not be realistic to keep your entire home tidy, but make sure that your workspace is bright and organized. Remove items from your desk that you do not need. If you are a visual person, hang a large calendar on the wall and write all your appointments, meetings and deadlines on the calendar for quick refence. Think of your computer desktop as an extension of your physical space and make sure to keep your files organized and easily accessible.

 

Overcommunicate

 

When you don’t see your manager and colleagues in the office, clear communication can help set expectations and allow your manager and team to know what you are working on, what your priorities are, and what you need from them. Ensure that anyone who needs to know what you are working on knows when you start on projects, when you reach certain milestones and when you reach project completion. Also ensure you overcommunicate about time away from work for vacation so that everyone knows you will be unavailable. Be aware that when working remote it can be difficult to gauge someone’s mood, so using emojis and punctuations can help with imparting tone and feeling into your emails and chat messages. It’s okay to let your personality come through in communication, just keep it professional.

 

Proactively seek out professional development opportunities

 

Professional skill development will always be worthwhile. When you work remote it is important that you are being proactive about developing your skills and seeking new skills. For an employee who works 100% remote for a company that provides onsite training try and attend onsite training opportunities that will allow you to interact with colleagues in person. No matter if you work for a company or are self-employed, seek online training and certificate opportunities that will increase your knowledge and make you more valuable.

 

Conclusion

 
Treat working from home like you do working from an office. Maintain professionalism, boundaries and a schedule. If you have children, be sure to set ground rules and a schedule so everyone in the home understands your expectations of them while you work. Understand that organization, goal setting and effective communication can help in creating work/life balance as you begin your journey as a remote employee. Most important, stay home, stay safe!

 

 

Click here to get in touch with us. You can also email us at [email protected]

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic many companies are finding that their workforce has abruptly shifted to a remote workforce. This shift can be challenging for many companies and stressful for employees who are accustomed to working in an office. In this article we will explore five tools for increasing efficiency when working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak: collaboration software, scheduling software, eSignature & Digital Transaction Management software, meeting software, computer hardware & internet access.

 

Collaboration Software

 

Streamlined communication, collaboration and transparency are three important factors when working remote. Having the necessary software in place to encourage effective communication, promote transparent project management, and conduct reliable meetings can be the difference between a successful remote work team and one that fails to meet deliverables. There are many options on the market for software that accomplishes these goals, here are a few:

 

  • Communication
    • Slack is a collaboration tool that brings remote teams together. Slack’s instant messaging platform makes real-time communication seamless and engaging.
    • Microsoft Teams replaced what used to be Skype for Business. This collaboration platform is Microsoft’s answer to an online meeting hub. What we like most about Microsoft Teams is it combines video conferencing, calling and document collaboration into one easy to navigate app. (At the time of posting this blog article Microsoft Teams is being offered for free for users working remote.)
    • Google Hangouts is a professional business collaboration tool that gives users the ability to use both voice and text to communicate in real-time. Hangouts seems to work better with smaller teams from our experience.
  • Project Management
    • Asana is a web and mobile application aimed at helping teams organize, track and manage projects. Asana makes project collaboration simple with tools to help keep everyone working toward a common goal and completing projects on time.
    • Monday.com was previously Dapulse and is a collaborative space that helps teams plan, organize and track projects all in one place. Monday.com has a sleek platform with visually appealing charts that help keep track of projects.
    • Trello is a great collaboration tool built into a visually appealing app. Trello is fun and flexible with many uses both professional and personal. Great for a start-up or large family trying to keep appointments straight.
  • Document Collaboration
    • Google Docs is a cloud-based collaboration tool that allows teams of all sizes to create, share, edit and even publish documents and presentations.
    • Zoho Docs make document creation, storing, editing, sharing and collaboration seamless. Zoho Docs allows users to store all their files like music, videos and spreadsheets in one place.
    • Quip is a collaboration and communication tool for teams. Quip allows users to edit documents and spreadsheets in real-time.

 

Meeting Software

 

Virtual meeting platforms are a necessity when working from home. These platforms allow for visual communication in a virtual meeting space. They also allow users the ability to share computer screens in real time for a collaborative meeting experience. The following software allows for both internal and external virtual meetings.

 

  • GoToMeeting is great for large virtual meetings and is easy to get started. It also has the option to set up turnkey onsite meeting rooms with prepackaged equipment for those businesses that have a team of both location-dependent and location-independent employees.
  • WebEx is an enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars. WebEx stands out because it integrates well with other applications like salesforce, Google Drive and Office 365.
  • Zoom allows users to visually connect without having to physically be together. Zoom is easy to navigate and works well with very large groups. One thing we like about Zoom is the easy option for those without a video connection to dial-in to meetings from their phone. (At the time of this blog post Zoom has extended its free account to have additional features for users working remote.)

 

Scheduling Software

 

One challenge with remote teams is the ability to schedule internal and external meetings without the need for lengthy email chains. While collaboration software can cut down on the need for meetings, sometimes meetings are necessary. These scheduling tools make scheduling meetings quick and help keep you organized.

 

  • You Can book me is a simple straightforward tool to help your team schedule online meetings.
  • Calendly touts the ability to help you schedule meetings without the back and forth emails.
  • Doodle is an online scheduling tool specifically focused on helping larger teams find the best time for a meeting that works with everyone’s schedule. After a time is identified the system will send out a calendar invite.

 

eSignature & Digital Transaction Management Software

 

eSignature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) software can increase productivity and efficiency while reducing errors and cost. ZorroSign can help companies:

 

  • Track completed work, enabling accountability of workflow.
  • Centralize in-process and completed documents so users don’t have to check multiple sources.
  • Reduce fraud with blockchain based audit trail, so users have full trust and confidence that executed documents will be legally binding globally.
  • Execute documents and contracts anywhere, any time, and on any smart device.

 

Hardware & Internet

 

When working from home having secure computer hardware that can handle the type of work the employee does is very important. A data analyst, systems engineer, or graphic designer would each have very different hardware needs. Many people use laptops, so physically switching locations (from work to home) should not be too difficult. Just as important is the ability of an employee to have access to reliable and fast internet. Internet speed often varies depending on the location of the individual. In general, most people who work from home can comfortably conduct business with internet speeds around 25 Mbps. If the user is downloading very large files or needs to stream 4K content, 200+ Mbps or greater should be used. Unfortunately, in many locations outside of larger cities higher speed internet is not available. If an employee plans on working from multiple locations, a personal hotspot would be useful to ensure uninterrupted internet access.

 

Another consideration companies should take when relying on a remote workforce is security and privacy. Company issued equipment should have appropriate security software pre-installed. If an employee is using their own hardware then the company should have protocols in place to ensure sensitive data is protected. Companies should be concerned with cybersecurity and take steps to protect company equipment and information. A few tips for being cyber aware when working remote are to: secure your home network, encrypt sensitive files, dispose sensitive data securely, patch vulnerabilities when prompted, use multi-factor authentication to access systems, use a VPN, have MDM and EPM policies in place, and don’t open emails from unknown senders.

 

Conclusion

 

The bottom line is if you are not accustomed to working from home this can be a very stressful time. As you begin to navigate a new normal, having the correct tools in place to increase your efficiency will help reduce some of the stress you are feeling. Remember, when you are working remote, clear and consistent communication is very important. Using the tools and resources above can help you and your company succeed in the remote workforce environment. If your company doesn’t already have some of these tools in place, many of them are easy to implement with low costs. The right tools, with the right attitude and drive will make working remote through the COVID-19 outbreak fun, effective and efficient.

 

 

Click here to get in touch with us. You can also email us at [email protected]

If there was something you could do to increase workforce productivity, efficiency, employee wellness, increase employee satisfaction and save money, would you?

 

For many businesses a remote workforce can provide the benefits stated above. For small businesses the benefits of a remote workforce can drastically decrease overhead cost, allowing additional talent acquisition and business growth. For larger businesses a remote workforce can decrease turnover and attract top global talent.

 

Remote employees, also known as location-independent employees are those company workers that can accomplish their work from a location other than the physical location of a company office. In addition to the benefits of a remote workforce, it’s important to realize this is not a fad. In fact, a survey conducted by Owl Labs determined that as much as 52% of employees around the globe work remotely at least one-day per week, with 16% of global businesses operating 100% remote. The reason for the increase in businesses utilizing remote workforces are many, in this article we will explore increased productivity, increased employee satisfaction, access to top talent and saving money.

 

Increased productivity

 

Imagine having a cohesive team that consistently gets more done in less time. The University of Illinois published a study that showed telecommuters often outperform their location-dependent peers and go above the call of duty to provide more effort for their companies. Remote workers generally work more hours as they start earlier since they do not have a long commute. These same workers also take shorter breaks and are more likely to work until the end of the day, as they are not rushing out of the office to try and decrease their commute time in traffic or run errands before businesses close. Remote workers also tend to work through lunch and unscheduled leave for sick days decrease. According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, remote employees actually worked almost an entire day more per week than their in-office counterparts.

 

Flexibility to get demanding work done during hours the employee is most effective increases productivity and deliverables. For some employees the early morning hours are when they are at their best, for others the middle of the day is when they are most effective or creative. Other employees are inspired by their environment and the flexibility to physically change their work environment helps to increase their productivity and give all their attention to the project at hand.

 

Remote collaboration using conference calling and video chat cut down on lengthy meetings and help provide a smoother transition from meetings to working on projects. Instead of using valuable time chatting about the weather before or after a meeting, online meetings are more likely to start and end on time, allowing employees to begin meaningful work much faster after a virtual meeting, rather than an in-person meeting.

 

Increased employee satisfaction

 

Remote work leads to increased employee satisfaction. Namely, location-independent jobs allow for work/life balance. This balance decreases employee stress and increases wellness. With the flexibility of working remotely employees are often able to increase their physical activity, while still spending time with their family as a result of saving considerable time not commuting each day. Location-independent work arrangements also lead to the flexibility of employees being able to explore additional education and career training. This flexibility to improve one’s skill set leads to not only increased employee satisfaction, but personal fulfillment and career growth. Along with the savings realized by corporations, Flexjobs reported that employees save on average $4,600 per year by working remote full-time.

 

Access to top talent

 

A remote workforce can allow a business to tap into top talent and subject matter experts across the globe. With geographic constraints removed employers are now able to seek the best and brightest talent, regardless of living location. AfterCollege conducted a study showing that 68% of millennials would consider a remote work arrangement a favorable perk when deciding on a prospective employer. When competing for top talent, offering remote work arrangements can give a business a competitive advantage.

 

Save money

 

It’s simple, reduce the number of employees in an office and you can reduce overhead cost. Some of the cost reduction associated with fewer employees working in an office are office rent, furniture, supplies and utilities. According to Flexjobs employers can experience a $22,000 savings per full-time remote employee per year by offering a full-time remote work arrangement. According to an online article in Forbes, Insurance giant Aetna is one of the largest employers offering remote work. This arrangement has paid off big for the company with an estimated cost savings of $78 million per year from a reduction in rented space.

 

Location-independent employees also have a reduced rate of employee turnover. Remote employees are more likely to stay loyal to their company. It is estimated that millennials average job tenure is about two-years, imagine being able to double that. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has conducted research that suggests average replacement cost of a salaried employee is six to nine months’ salary. It’s clear that keeping a valuable employee engaged and loyal will ultimately pay dividends given the cost to replace an employee, remote work arrangements help with turnover reduction.

 

Conclusion

 

For some businesses, allowing employees to work remotely will greatly benefit both the business and the employee. Workers who feel valued and inspired will ultimately be more productive, efficient and more willing to work harder in order to be a valuable member of the team. While remote work takes discipline, providing employees with tools that will help them succeed will allow businesses the ability to experience significant benefits by allowing for partial or total remote work. Finally, remote workforces help to decrease carbon emissions, thus improving the global environment, which is a major focus area for ZorroSign.

 

Click here to get in touch with us. You can also email us at [email protected]

Walk into any office and you will see remnants of paper use, whether it’s paper receipts, file cabinets full of contracts, printers, courier services, or even medical records. Paper has long been the standard in most businesses, but this is changing. With the recent ‘go digital’ movement, more and more companies are choosing to replace their paper processes with digital workflows. The companies who have already made the switch to digital are realizing many benefits, both for their employees and the company. There are cost savings, environmental benefits, and even increases in employee satisfaction. Paper processes are costly, in this article you will learn about 11 immediate cost savings your company can benefit from by adopting an eSignature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) solution.

 

In order to fully understand potential cost savings of going digital, let’s first briefly explore the dollar costs associated with paper based processes, specifically, Print-Sign-Scan-Email or Courier processes. Businesses large and small generally have different processes, and this results in slightly different cost estimates for paper based processes. As a result it is better to provide a framework for cost calculation.

 

Cost Analysis Framework (USA estimates)

 

Copy paper

$5 / pack of 500 sheets

Printer/WorkCenter

B/W: $8,000

Color: $4,500

Printer Ink (per printer)

B/W: $250 50k pages

Color: $360 20k pages

Scanner

Included w/Printer/WorkCenter

Electricity

$99.06 /Month/printer

Steel file cabinets

$600 average / Cabinet

Folders & stationery

$300 / Year/Employee

$1000/Year/Employee (Law Firm)

Courier services

$33,000 to $65,000/Year

Man hours, Time

260 hours/ Employee/Year

Off-site paper storage

$0.72 /Box/Month

$864/100 Boxes/Yr.

Office space (file cabinets)

15 Sq.Ft (standard 4-drawer file cabinet)

Avg. $50 /Sq.Ft = $9000/Year

Insurance (Data Breach Policy)

$12k to $120k /Year

size of company, includes cyber attack coverage.

As you can see from the above cost analysis framework, paper processes are expensive and a major cost for businesses. Going digital and having your company adopt a paperless lifestyle can drastically impact company profits, increase employee satisfaction, while also positively impacting the environment. The cost savings of going digital are immediate, below is a list and additional details of just eleven of these savings:

 

    1. Copy Paper – Copy paper is costly, and printed documents are vulnerable to copying, theft or damaged, whereas digitally signed documents are encrypted and safely stored inside password protected accounts that are always accessible.
    2. Printer Ink – Paper processes require documents to be printed using printer ink or toner in order to wet sign a document. When going digital, the need for printer ink can be eliminated altogether or drastically reduced.
    3. Printer/WorkCenter – Printed documents require companies to invest in expensive printers or WorkCenters that are capable of handling extensive printing needs. Assuming the company is not printing and distributing printed marketing collateral, this expense can be reduced or eliminated by adopting a digital process.
    4. Folders & Stationery – When using paper processes, companies must organize printed materials that are then stored. The use of file folders and stationery are often the answer to methodically storing paper based documents. Transitioning to a digital process can eliminate or reduce the need for file folders and stationary.
    5. Filing Cabinets – Physically signed documents are often stored as an archive copy in storage cabinets. These filing cabinets cost money. Transitioning to electronic signatures will reduce or eliminate the need for filing cabinets.
    6. Office Space (for file cabinets) – Physically signed documents that are stored in filing cabinets use valuable office space. Adopting an eSignature and DTM solution reduces or eliminates the cost associated with extra office space to house these filing cabinets.
    7. Off-site paper storage – Often companies are forced to use off-site storage facilities for archived documents in order to make room for current and new documents in their daily office space. This opens the door for damage, theft or loss of these valuable documents when being transferred in between locations, not to mention the expense incurred to store these documents off-site. Prevent risk of loss or damage with eSignatures as physical filing of documents becomes unnecessary.
    8. Courier Services – Shipping and handling of paper documents for signature is avoided all together.
    9. Legal Fees – Using ZorroSign’s patent pending 4n6 (Forensics) Token Reader, ZorroSign offers non-repudiated audit trails and chain of custody. ZorroSign users can be confident their documents have been executed with tamper-proof security and enforceability. This audit trail and chain of custody can drastically reduce legal fees if a contract is disputed in a court of law.
    10. Insurance – Decrease of insurance premiums from lowering fire and theft risk by eliminating paper file storage.
    11. Personnel Resources:
      a. Save time retrieving documents.
      b. Save time managing signature process like tracking and follow-up, etc.
      c. Save time with the ability to manage multiple versions of documents and templates.
      d. Save time by identifying bottlenecks and make appropriate adjustments to the process in order to increase efficiency.

 

Along with immediate and long term cost savings achieved by using an eSignature and DTM solution, there are substantial environmental impacts, these include: conservation of water, energy, and trees as well as reduction of carbon footprint. Check out ZorroSign’s Environmental Savings Calculator to see your company’s potential environmental impact. For organizations adopting a ‘go digital’ mindset, there are tangible benefits like cost savings and intangible benefits like doing your part to save the environment, these benefits not only help the company, but its employees as well. Studies show that 3 in every 4 companies who adopt paperless processes experience a tangible payback within 12-18 months.

 

To learn more about ZorroSign’s green initiative, please visit Paperless Life and find out just how large of an environmental impact your company could have by going paperless. Click here to check out ZorroSign Plans & Pricing, enabling your company to do an accurate analysis on their total current cost of using paper and compare that cost to purchasing and using an eSignature and Digital Transaction Management system like ZorroSign.

 

 

References