Why Background Checks Still Matter When You Hire Remote Employees

Ongoing Monitoring Can Also Help Manage a Remote Workforce Over the Long Term

The pandemic upended how, when, and where employees work. The U.S. Census Bureau notes that the number of people working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021, which isn't surprising given this was the height of Covid.

But remote work remains prevalent post-pandemic, accounting for over a quarter of paid full-time workdays in the U.S., according to The New York Times.

Our goal with this article isn't to debate the pros and cons of remote work. Instead, we want to dive into why you shouldn't skimp on background checks for remote employees:

     Background checks provide necessary insights to make quality hires—whether the person is a remote worker or not.

     Screening requirements for certain industries don't change simply because the hiring happens remotely.

     Reference checks can help assess whether the candidate will succeed in a remote position.

     Criminal history checks can help reduce the risk of data security issues.

     Social media checks can diminish the chance of introducing toxic behaviors into the online culture.

     Ongoing monitoring can help HR better manage from afar over the long term.

Background checks provide necessary insights to make a quality hire—whether the person is a remote worker or not.

Let's pretend you're the marketing manager for a company. Your team is virtual, and you're considering a candidate with a marketing degree who is certified in Google Analytics and who's worked on a marketing team before.

You hire her without corroborating her education or experience. She assures you she's "taking care of the company's Google Analytics." You trust that she is, even though you're not in the same space, so you never see her working on it.

A few months later, another person on your marketing team alerts you about everything in Google Analytics that hasn't been set up correctly.

It turns out the person you hired doesn't have a degree in marketing, she's not certified in GA, and she's only dabbled in marketing while running her own failed online business.

Sadly, people lie on their resumes, which is why you should run background checks on all candidates, including those you hire for remote positions.

A background check will give you the confidence that you're hiring the best person for the job based on their skills, education, and previous experience.

Background check requirements for certain industries don't change simply because the hiring happens online.

For industries requiring certain background checks—for example, credit history for financial positions and drug testing and MVR checks for truckers—no one cares where the hiring occurs or who reports to the office. Compliance is compliance.

HR's job is to make the compliance process seamless with online recruiting and hiring. Kicking off background check processes via candidate text messaging can help. Working with a reputable background check vendor can also help.

Reference checks are even more critical since they can confirm whether the candidate is a good fit for remote work.

Not everyone applying for your remote position is necessarily cut out for remote work. This is why hiring a background check company to conduct reference checks with immediate past employers is essential.

The verifications team can ask the former employer about the candidate's . . .

  • Time management skills
  • Organization skills
  • Ability to self-motivate
  • Reliability
  • Adaptability
  • Motivation
  • Digital literacy

The above are essential skills for most jobs, but even more so for remote workers who won't be under the watchful gaze of a supervisor.

Criminal history checks can help reduce the risk of data security issues.

Remote workers often have access to sensitive company information, from passwords to online bank accounts. Not to mention, many workers use their own personal devices, like computers, to do their daily tasks.

You must hire people you can trust with the keys to your online kingdom. Conducting a thorough criminal background check can help reduce the chances of hiring someone who might be a cyber security risk or who has a history of fraud or financial misdeeds.

     PRO TIP: It's easy to think doing a criminal history check might be enough. Sadly, it's not. What if the person has never been caught, or any convictions were from a decade ago or longer? What if the fraudster is impersonating a real person with their credentials to gain access to a company's sensitive financial data? This is known as "synthetic identity fraud," and it's one of the fastest-growing forms of identity theft. Always bundle identity verifications into your screening package so you know exactly who you're hiring.

Social media checks can diminish the chance of introducing toxic behaviors into the online culture.

Wouldn't you want to know if the candidates you were considering for remote positions displayed problematic online behaviors, like bullying or threats of violence, before you hired them, and they brought those behaviors into the virtual workplace?

Silly question—of course, you would. A social media background check is the type of due diligence savvy HR managers conduct when hiring remote workers.

Ongoing monitoring can be an excellent, budget-friendly way to keep tabs on your remote workforce over the long term.

Ongoing monitoring options include:

The idea behind all three: The initial "check" sets the baseline. You're only notified if something changes going forward. For example, maybe a remote worker is arrested for credit card theft at their second job and doesn't tell you. Or the delivery driver for your new pizza chain across the country gets a DUI—and doesn't inform anyone. Or maybe some remote workers are getting into a heated debate on Twitter.

Monitoring helps you do exactly that—you monitor situations so you can take appropriate action.

Need help implementing a seamless process for running background checks on remote workers?

Verifying a person's identity, education, past employment, and criminal history AND doing reference checks are essential inputs, especially when hiring remote employees. We can help you develop a background check process that doesn't slow you down. Get in touch, and let's chat.

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Mariah Barr

Posted by Mariah Barr

Mariah Barr is the Content Marketing Writer at Good Egg. She's played a few roles in her professional life, but they’ve always involved writing interesting and informative pieces. Outside of work you can find her walking her dog or working on a DIY home improvement project.

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