Modern businesses have a lot of tools at their disposal. Cloud-based servers, video conferencing, Slack — all of these have a tremendous potential to change the way we do business.
But businesses don’t always take full advantage of their tools’ potential, often because it’s just easier to stick to the status quo (whether or not the status quo is more productive). But when circumstances force workers to stay at home, they can also serve as an opportunity to explore what it means to work remotely.
According to the teleconferencing company Owl Labs, nearly half of all U.S. workers work remotely at least once per week, and 30 percent work remotely full-time. What’s more, remote work is perceived as desirable: 42 percent of current remote workers plan on working remotely more in 5 years, and the majority of on-site workers report that they want to start working remotely.
Clearly, we’re in the middle of a trend. But…
What does this mean for staffing?
If you’ve worked in hiring in IT, healthcare, or the professional staffing industries, you probably know the major challenge of this shift to remote work — handling remote I-9 forms.
These industries lead the charge in remote work, but others may soon follow after seeing the benefits. After all, leveraging a remote workforce means:
- Lowered costs for office space and equipment
- Less time spent commuting
- Happier, more productive employees
- Access to a wider, less local applicant pool
It’s a natural conclusion that as remote work becomes increasingly popular, so too will remote hiring. And as remote hiring becomes more commonplace, so too will I-9 audits.
While the benefits of remote working are clear, it’s not without its challenges, particularly when it comes to remote hiring. Sixty-eight percent of remote I-9s have errors, a rate that regulators have responded to with more frequent auditing. In fact, the number of I-9 audits have jumped up by 2,000% since 2009!
The biggest challenge with remote I-9s
Let’s consider an IT staffing firm interested in hiring a candidate. Video interviews are relatively straightforward. You can even have them remotely complete a coding assignment or modeling exercise to validate their skills.
An IT candidate can get through nearly all of the onboarding process without having to meet with somebody face to face. But when completing their I-9, a remote candidate is legally required to meet someone to review, validate and sign their I-9 form. Taking a photo or scan of the document and sending it to our IT staffing firm is regrettably not in compliance.
To be compliant, you need an authorized representative to inspect and sign your remote hire’s I-9. This can be a member of our hypothetical IT staffing firm, a notary public, even your candidate’s friend or family. But the trouble is that our IT staffing firm is still liable if the document is inaccurate.
Sounds like a hassle, right?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your remote hiring and I-9 workflow streamlined, compliant and audit-ready while reducing your liability. In the future and today, workers are going to expect the option to work and apply remotely, so it’s important to establish an I-9 workflow that works for both the candidate and the employer.
We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this process from both the employer and the candidate perspective. That’s why we designed EmployStream to:
- Present I-9 forms through a guided interface to ensure that all required information is filled out correctly
- Work on mobile, so that users can fill out their documentation wherever is most convenient for them
- Automatically collect and log all of the information needed for an audit trail
If you’re interested in hearing more, we cover the remote I-9 process extensively in our webinar, “Gain Confidence in Your I-9 Process.” If you’re curious about how EmployStream can help, feel free to get in touch with us.