Even as Big Tech CEOs make lofty statements about the necessity of the "return to the office," a hybrid approach to work has already become an established norm in many sectors. Fully remote work continues to be preferable for many young and established professionals, too. However, these trends raise an essential question. Should employers reconsider the way they use background screening services for remote positions?
Understanding this new employment model will be critical in many industries. Some HR teams may even see it as an opportunity to streamline the hiring pipeline to fill essential positions faster. Skipping a background check for someone who will never set foot in the office might seem sensible. However, a deeper examination reveals there is still an essential role for screening—even for those working hundreds of miles away from headquarters.
Screening Still Helps to Reduce the Risk of a Bad Hire
Remote work has become an established norm in many industries—even in spaces that traditionally wouldn't have allowed such arrangements. For example, defense industry contractors are increasingly working from home. These individuals may work with very sensitive information. In some cases, they may even have a federal security clearance.
At the state level, some positions that require special licenses have also gone remote. Changes and exceptions to the rules mean that those who might once have needed to work in a licensed facility can now do the same tasks from home.
Both these examples highlight an important fact: just because someone works remotely does not change the impact they can have on a company. While you might not worry about someone with an assault conviction causing physical harm to coworkers, there are other risk factors to evaluate. Even in the case of a violent felony conviction, a business may not want to assume the risk that someone might re-offend. That would mean starting the hiring process.
In other words, a poor hiring choice can have the same impacts from a remote position as in the office. With less direct supervision, there could even be an increased risk for crimes such as fraud and embezzlement. Understanding an applicant's background—and developing a sense of how much risk they represent—is essential no matter where they work.
While it can be tempting to cut corners to fill positions faster, remote workers aren't a different class of employees at the end of the day. They can be as much of an asset or a risk as any other employee.
What About Fair Chance Laws?
There is one crucial consideration to make as you develop remote employment background screening procedures. You must adhere to any Fair Chance or "ban the box" rules that apply to your business in the jurisdiction from which you operate. You cannot skip these obligations simply because a candidate may live in another city or state without such rules.
While meeting regulatory compliance requirements can be more challenging, background screening services mean vetting remote workers is just as straightforward. By following the same procedures you would use for an in-office employee, you can obtain all the information you need to make smarter, well-informed decisions. With such a process, you can even leverage remote work's benefits and value more effectively.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments