Remote Working and Email Signature Management
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the biggest change to everyday life many of us have ever seen. Companies worldwide suddenly had to grabble with remote working policies and tools in the wake of lockdowns and serious restrictions. The pandemic normalized remote work to such an extent that the way we work will never be the same. In fact, a Gartner report found that 74% of CFOs and Finance leaders plan to move their previously on-site employees to permanent remote positions post-COVID-19.
But while working remotely is here to stay, IT departments continue to face more challenges and an increased need to support staff. It is always more difficult to manage personnel when they can work from any location. There are simply more variables that can impact employee productivity as well as overall business continuity.
This also applies to email signature updates, which have always been difficult to manage. They become even more of challenge when taking a remote workforce into account.
Remote Working Pre-2020: A Growing Trend
According to a Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs report, the remote work model had been steadily growing by 159% globally from 2005-2017. This had been down to various technological advances, improvements in broadband connectivity, and the launch of various collaboration and instant messaging tools.
Some of this also had to do with the fact that remote working was, and still is, attractive to many traditional office workers. Nearly 50% of millennials were classed as freelancers and the benefits of remote working were seen to be:
- More flexible work schedules
- A better work-life balance
- Reduced commuting time
- Increased productivity
Some argued that there were negatives such as isolation, increased distractions, and a lack of relationship with co-workers. However, the consensus was that remote working generally had more positive benefits for employers and employees.
By 2019, 61% of global companies were offering some form of remote work policy, with Europe, North America, and Australasia leading the way. This was lower in the South American, African, and Asian markets. Interestingly, only 32% of Japanese global companies offered a remote work policy, yet 80% of Japanese employees had shown interest in working remotely.
However, it was important to note that remote workers were still in the minority pre-2020. In fact, Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, highlighted that full-time and half-time telecommuters were in the minority.
Remote Working in 2020: The New Normal
The early months of 2020 saw the business landscape completely upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid spread of the virus, social distancing measures, and countrywide lockdowns forced many companies to rapidly adapt. That meant moving employees out of traditional office spaces and asking them to work from home where possible. In fact, the way that COVID-19 shifted so many to remote working was dubbed “the largest working from home experiment in history”.
Looking past the pandemic, it is now becoming clear that the way we all work has completely changed. Many employees have found they actually prefer working remotely, becoming much more productive. Also, some companies are deciding that they no longer wish to use physical office spaces, having seen that staff can work remotely successfully.
With a more agile workforce, the calls for ending largescale business travel will become louder. That, plus the changes to traditional working hours and fewer in-person meetings, means a very different working experience moving forward.
Remote Working Challenges for IT
When a company has so many remote employees, IT challenges can and often do occur. A lot of these issues have been common to companies with a remote working policy for years:
- Providing enough bandwidth to support VPN and remote-desktop access
- Shifting more security responsibilities onto individual employees
- Understanding the increased threat to cybersecurity – phishing scams, DDos attacks, ransomware, etc.
- Supplying adequate tools for online collaboration and ensuring employees know how to use them
- Preparing for increased IT support requests – not as easy to deal with when people aren’t in the same office
- Giving employees appropriate hardware to work from home, i.e. laptops, phones, etc.
Email Signature Management Issues
IT teams are familiar with the pain of email signature updates. This might seem like a trivial issue when you consider the other challenges surrounding remote working. However, upon closer inspection, the subject of email signature management can become a thorny one for any IT administrator.
The time impact on the IT department
One of the major issues that come from managing email signatures for remote workers is that the task takes too long. An IT team simply has other more important tasks to be dealing with. Email signature updates are often time consuming and tedious but become even more so when everyone is working from home offices.
At the same time, it is not best practice to let everyone design and control their own signature designs. The IT department needs to police the templates that everyone in the company uses.
Some of the most common issues include:
- Images getting stripped out by certain email clients
- Not being able to test signature templates before they go live
- Signatures stacking at the bottom of email conversations
- Complex rules needing to be created so signatures are applied correctly
- HTML signatures not being possible on mobile devices
- Blank spaces appearing in some users’ contact details
Worst of all, if one mistake is made, the whole setup process has to begin again.
The end user factor
End users should never be involved in email signature design. Every person will interpret your brand in different ways. One person might decide they don’t want to use the standard template while another might make their own. Email signatures represent your brand, which is even more important when remote working practices are in place.
If end users can control their email signatures, they become unmanageable for IT. As a rule, most companies never allow this to happen. However, it becomes even more difficult to manage email signatures when you’re dealing with a remote workforce. That’s why many companies decide to use third-party email signature management solutions from vendors like Exclaimer.
Exclaimer Email Signature Solutions: Perfect for Remote Users
The idea there are dedicated solutions specifically designed for email signature management can elicit interesting responses. Simply put, a lot of IT professionals are often unaware such products exist. Even if they do, they might not see the value in using such a solution within their company.
But if too much time is spent on tireless email signature updates, a third-party solution to control these becomes very attractive. After all, companies use all manner of third-party products and services to automate simple and complex processes. Why should investing in an email signature management solution be any different?
The major benefits of using an email signature management solution include:
- Delivering your brand consistently every time
- Centrally managing email signatures wherever you are
- Providing important updates to customers and employees quickly
- Giving the marketing department control over email signature updates; IT can work on keeping infrastructure running
- Applying updates quickly and in real time
- Significantly reducing strain and dependency on IT resources
- Removing inconvenience, inconsistency, lack of flexibility, loss of credibility, and human error
Using Email Signatures to Support Business Goals
Third-party email signature solutions from Exclaimer are designed to take the burden of time-consuming updates away from IT teams. With this level of control in place, marketing teams are then able to leverage email signatures to open up new opportunities. When it comes to remote working, there are four ways email signatures can help your business goals.
Present a consistent and unified brand
It’s important that your brand remains consistent on all corporate emails. This is especially true when everyone’s working remotely from home. Employees are walking advertisements for your business, so they represent your brand, mission, and key objectives. Employees should have no control over the design, be unable to modify the template or ignore using a signature altogether. Every email must always be consistent.
By using a professional email signature template that fully incorporates brand guidelines, provides valuable content, and contains correct contact details, a company can expect to make a positive impression on even the most jaded of recipients.
A new marketing channel
Once the COVID-19 pandemic started, many marketing departments had their budgets cut. At the same time, companies were still communicating via email, if not more so. Email, as always, continued to be the dominant corporate communications channel. That’s why it makes sense to apply a display banner to any email signature template.
Email signatures are:
- Low-cost compared to other marketing channels
- Highly targeted as you often know who is going to see your banners
- Consistently displayed in any email sent by your company
- A valuable source of content, e.g. white papers, videos, press releases, etc.
- Trusted and business relevant
Actively engaging with employees and customers
Email signatures are a great way to engage with remote workers and give them a sense of empowerment. When employees are working from different locations, it’s important to overcommunicate with them. There’s a risk that some people might feel isolated and cut off from the rest of the company.
Email signatures then work in tandem with collaboration and instant messaging tools like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. They subtly provide important company information to employees, giving them another way to learn important news.
For example, you can:
- Link banners to important news sites providing up-to-date information
- Keep everyone informed of company news
- Provide advice on how you can be more productive while working from home
- Give employees different signature templates to choose from depending on the nature of the emails they send
Finally, you can use your corporate email signature to maintain customer satisfaction levels. You can use 1-click surveys to gauge how your customer support is being received. These responses can be gathered quickly, letting you action them quickly too.
With more people than ever working remotely in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the business landscape has seen the most fundamental change in decades. Remote working for traditional office employees is now the new "normal" and will continue to be as the 2020s progresses. However, this means IT departments will be expected to shoulder more responsibilities to allow employees to work remotely from home environments. This includes continuing to deal with well-known issues surrounding email signature management.
Email signature management solutions are designed to relieve pressure on IT teams in the same way that other third-party tools and apps do. By having the ability to centrally control email signatures, IT can ensure brand consistency and compliance on all corporate emails. Marketing teams can then use signatures to engage with internal and external stakeholders, namely employees and customers. This is why so many IT and marketing professionals trust Exclaimer to design and centrally manage professional email signatures for all users.
How Exclaimer Can Help:
If you're looking for an easy way to design and manage professional email signatures across your whole organization, we're here to help. Find out more or start your free trial today!
Learn More Start your Free Trial