How background screening has adapted for remote and hybrid workplaces

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Like a lot of HR tech that we’ve seen develop since 2020, background screening has experienced significant change as it adapts to new ways of working. This guide will explore the evolution in background check technology as it seeks to address the challenges of verifying identities, ensuring compliance with local regulations, and harnessing technological innovations to meet the needs of modern workplaces with a distributed workforce.

According to figures from, 16% of global organisations are now fully remote - which is to say these organisations do not have headquarters or office options for their employees. At the same time, 44% of companies worldwide still don't allow remote work. The remaining 40% operate on a hybrid model combining in-office and remote work. 

The New York Times reported that researchers at Stanford and Harvard carried out an analysis of job postings and reported that remote work has increased fourfold since the pandemic.

With the rush to support hybrid and remote working, a revision of recruitment and onboarding processes was required. With a distributed workforce, more of a focus was placed on robust background screening processes than ever before. With talent pools opening up around the globe, HR leaders quickly recognised a growing need for maintaining organisational integrity and ensuring a safe working environment.

The screening tech revolution

HR has enjoyed an embarrassment of riches when it comes to tech development in the last five years. From AI-driven algorithms that enhance the accuracy and efficiency of candidate evaluations to blockchain-based platforms that store verified credentials safely and securely, these new tools have revolutionised traditional practices.

When it comes to screening, automated reference checks, instant employment reports and quick criminal background checks can now be activated instantly minimising manual effort and expediting the screening process while ensuring compliance with privacy regulations.

But how does screening differ between an onsite employee and a remote worker? The most pressing task when hiring remotely is to verify the worker’s ID. This isn’t just a case of receiving a scan of a passport or driver’s licence. When workers are international, authenticating identity can pose a number of challenges. 

To address these complexities, organisations are leveraging advanced technologies such as digital identity verification services and biometric authentication tools. These innovative solutions enable remote employers to authenticate identities securely and efficiently, ensuring the integrity of their screening procedures.

But there are other aspects to consider in background screening. A global sanctions check, for example, searches international databases to verify your candidate isn’t prohibited from working in certain roles. A criminal record check can be carried out in the candidate’s country to make sure there is no history of criminal activity. Academic and qualifications checks are recommended to ensure that the candidate’s educational credentials and experience are bona fide. 

In short, depending on the type of work, and the employment rules within the specific country, background checks can be applied accordingly.

How background screening builds a safer distributed workforce

Businesses are not only concerned with getting the right people in, but also maintaining the happiness and safety of their workplace. 

Background screening not only verifies the candidate has the right credentials, some checks can also provide insights into the risk level the individual may pose. For this reason, the right screening plays a crucial role in creating a safer workplace by helping employers make informed hiring decisions and mitigating potential risks. 

Here are some ways in which background checks contribute to a safer work environment:

1. Identifying criminal history: Background checks can uncover an individual's criminal records, including convictions, arrests, or pending charges. This information helps employers assess the potential risk associated with hiring a candidate and make informed decisions to protect their employees and customers.

2. Verifying employment history: Background checks verify the accuracy of a candidate's employment history, including past positions held, job responsibilities, and dates of employment. This ensures that the candidate has the necessary experience and qualifications for the role, reducing the likelihood of hiring individuals who may not be suitable or qualified.

3. Validating education and credentials: Background checks verify the educational background and credentials claimed by a candidate, ensuring that they possess the qualifications required for the position. This helps prevent the hiring of individuals who misrepresent their educational achievements, ensuring a competent and knowledgeable workforce.

4. Assessing professional licences and certifications: Certain roles may require specific licences or certifications to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations. Background checks verify the validity and status of professional licences and certifications, ensuring that individuals meet the necessary requirements for the job.

5. Protecting against workplace violence: By conducting background checks, employers can identify individuals with a history of violent or aggressive behaviour, restraining orders, or other red flags that may indicate a potential risk of workplace violence. This information allows employers to take appropriate measures to maintain a safe and secure work environment.

6. Promoting trust and integrity: Background checks help foster a culture of trust and integrity within the workplace. When employees know that their colleagues have undergone thorough background screenings, it instils confidence in the hiring process and creates a sense of security among the workforce.

Ultimately, background checks provide employers with valuable information to assess the suitability and trustworthiness of candidates, helping to create a safer workplace environment for all employees. By proactively screening potential hires, employers can reduce the risks associated with negligent hiring, enhance workplace safety, and protect their organisation's reputation.

Maintaining compliance in a distributed workplace

Of course, if hiring is taking place in various locations around the world, HR needs to be mindful of complying with local regulations and employment laws. With each jurisdiction imposing specific requirements on background checks and elements such as data protection, this can pose more complex challenges for the business.

One of the biggest blockers for businesses expanding their reach is the navigation of employment laws and regulations in other countries. While contract work and freelancing can bypass some of the knottier rules around employment abroad, there are many ways that businesses can maintain compliance.

The first and most crucial step is screening the people that join the business. For many countries, this will be a straightforward set of checks: typically, a right to work and a criminal background check. But in other locations - and in certain roles - these can increase to verify more information and ensure the right credentials. From adverse financial history and fit and proper tests for regulated industries to global sanctions checks and education verification checks for other countries.

While many organisations successfully manage these types of background screening checks in-house, many more prefer to outsource them, as a way of guaranteeing accuracy and compliance.

Software that aids compliance

And for more “in-house tech”, applicant tracking systems can now incorporate automated compliance checks into their workflows.

Alongside compliance with employment laws and industry regulations, employers need to pay attention to security and employee privacy in remote and hybrid work environments. 

Organisations must prioritise data protection and confidentiality while conducting background screenings. Transparent communication about screening processes builds trust among remote employees and fosters a culture of accountability.

Implementing robust cybersecurity measures safeguards sensitive information, ensuring compliance with privacy regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in the context of remote hiring.

Additionally, companies seeking to safeguard data integrity in remote and hybrid work can turn to comprehensive IT management solutions. One such solution is Esevel, which specializes in asset management and security services for the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment to departure. 

With Esevel, you can centralize control over device inventory for efficient management, streamline compliance processes, mitigate the risk of data breaches, and automate provisioning and de-provisioning tasks. You can also elevate your security measures with encrypted data, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and automatic updates.

The future of remote background screening

So, what lies ahead for the future of work? Presently, we are confident that organisations will continue to expand, seeking opportunities, talent, and business in different geographical areas. We know that we will keep relying on developing technologies to aid and support ways of working. And we know that physical distance is no longer a blocker to collaboration, partnerships, and new alliances.

And while this virtual workplace provides more possibilities, it opens up new risks. It’s our responsibility as business leaders to recognise these risks and mitigate them. While background screening is only one part of the bigger picture of risk management, it’s the first step. The first, important part of the process that allows businesses to get deeper insights and information to shape their hiring decisions and maintain safe and thriving work environments. 

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What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

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How to implement a successful background screening program

Today’s modern hiring landscape requires a robust pre-hire check process.

The role of background screening has evolved and changed over the past decade, moving from a cursory reference check to far deeper and meaningful insights that provide employers with the data needed to make a good hiring decision.

However, partnering with a screening provider that can provide everything you need can be a challenge.

Managing differing requirements and expectations, obtaining buy-in from stakeholders or simply getting the training required can all impact the long-term success of integrating pre-hire checks into your normal hiring processes. Get it right, and you could transform how your business makes the all-important hiring decisions. Get it wrong, and you risk the costly repercussions of welcoming in a bad hire.

Effective planning and research, as well as smooth onboarding with a third-party screening partner are essential. Our simple, step-by-step guide to planning and deploying a successful background check program will help you get started.

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