August 11th, 2020 | Jim Hickey, Managing Director, Sterling Backcheck

Remote Hiring During the Pandemic and Beyond

The gig and remote workforce — already expanding rapidly prior to COVID-19 — ballooned when “shelter in place” became mandatory for most workers. Employers around the globe were forced to rapidly adapt, and many found themselves scrambling to fully embrace and enable the new situation. (Sterling Backcheck, too, took the necessary steps to continue operations without interruption, and stay committed to our most essential resource, people.)

Overcoming the Adversity of COVID-19

Some employers with the ability and need to hire quickly found themselves struggling to figure out how to do so remotely. After a natural adjustment period, something interesting happened. Many employers that previously were skeptical towards remote employment found themselves pleasantly surprised with the continuity of their team’s productivity and overall engagement.

COVID-19 has given us a glimpse into the future. It’s driven us to rethink old ways of doing business, and recognize that it’s time to adapt modern approaches to hiring, onboarding, and employing our most treasured assets.

Prior to the pandemic, hiring was very much an in-person activity. It allowed the hiring manager to have an in-depth conversation with the candidate, while allowing the candidate to get a feel for the role as well as the potential work environment.

While hiring slowed down dramatically in the Spring, Canadians are now returning to work, and hiring is picking up again. As the curve has flattened and hiring is picking up, all of this is a positive move forward.

But none of it means that we can go back to the same routine we once had. Safety remains a top priority, and adapting the new process is necessary to continue towards positive trends, including establishing new practices for remote hiring.

Best Practices for Remote Hiring

Background Screening

While many things are changing, the need to perform thorough background checks hasn’t changed. Whether you’re hiring new employees or bringing back those that have been furloughed, it’s important to make sure that their employment and potential criminal record history still aligns with your hiring policies.


It’s safe to say that technology is one of the key components in making remote hiring a success. Some aspects of it include things like technology integration.

Organizations use various systems to simplify the hiring process. Making sure these systems talk to each other will help boost accuracy and ease of use, ultimately resulting in time savings. For example, ATS integration with a background screening provider creates a smother remote hiring and onboarding experience for both recruiters and applicants alike. It affords consistency right from the start in an application process to the employee’s first day on the job, regardless of the location.

ID Verification

The foundation of any background screening is identity verification. Did you know that an incorrect candidate name or date of birth can impact the results of a background check? Whether it is purposeful fraud or an accidental typo, inaccurate data can have significant downstream consequences. In Canada, any credible background screening provider is required to verify candidate’s identity prior to starting a background check.

Prior to COVID-19, many organizations relied on doing this in person, whether through the hiring manager or Canada Post. But with in-person activities being limited or closed, that created a challenge. As remote hiring becomes a long-term strategy, it’s important to see what options background screening providers offer in identity verification. Partnering with a company that offers virtual ID verification in accordance with RCMP policies will ensure that the candidate you’re screening and hiring is who they say they are.

Remote Work Considerations

As you’re hiring remotely, chances are you’re also considering remote work options for employees. Even the Government of Canada is currently considering moving many of its employees to be working from home permanently. Its guidebook for departments on easing of restrictions for federal worksites states: “Employees whose work can be done remotely should continue to take advantage of recent investments in IT infrastructure and digital skills, as the work and equipment permit”[i].

By now, your organization has probably been exposed to some type of remote work. As you’re planning more long-term, consider these questions:

  • Can the employee perform his or her job remotely? The answer will vary by function. If the answer is yes, then there should be considerations for these types of positions to be remote. For some roles, there will be no limitations. For others, there might be technology and privacy restrictions that could make working remotely a challenging option.
  • Can this employee work remotely? Even if the role can be 100% remote, not all employees feel comfortable or can be productive at home. Or would they feel more productive in an office setting? In that case, will your organization offer a blended model, and are you able to accommodate? It’s important to set these expectations right from the start so the employee can mentally and physically prepare for the appropriate setting.


One of the questions we often get is, “Why is it necessary to conduct background checks when we’re simply re-hiring an old employee?” The answer is quite simple. We re-check because things can change. It’s true that things like their previous education or employment history won’t change, but a criminal history could. Our previous blog, “Re-checking your employees,” discusses important considerations that still hold true today. As you’re bring back employees, we recommend keeping these considerations in mind.

Adapting and Moving Forward

Remote hiring is not just a temporary solution. It will increasingly become more popular as remote work gains wider adoption. As you’re reviewing your policies and incorporating remote hiring into your process, consider:

  • Technology: background checks, integrations, ID verification – are they all up to par and align with your policies?
  • Roles: as you’re creating/filling roles, are these roles collaborative? Do they necessitate supervision? Do they require a high level of security?
  • Culture: if you’re expanding to have more remote workers, embrace the remote culture. Can you set the right expectations for the new employees?
  • Hire the right people: an employee who is productive in an office setting may not be as productive at home, and vice versa. Don’t just hire for the role, but also for the setting.

The long-term transition will be bumpy. Be patient and flexible. The process will take time getting used to. Adapt lessons learned.

To learn more how Sterling Backcheck can assist with remote hiring, visit

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.