Should I Drug Test My Remote Employees?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Networking with remote employees

As the world continues to adjust to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, more and more workers are opting to forego a return to the office, and instead have committed themselves to make remote work a permanent part of working life.

But what does this shift in the working atmosphere mean for the future of employee drug testing?

While jobs that require using heavy machinery or operating a motor vehicle are still considered high-risk enough to submit for random drug testing, many employers have been left wondering if drug testing for remote employees is still a worthwhile investment.

That’s why it’s important to evaluate the potential benefits and complications that may impact your decision to require drug testing for remote workers so that you can develop a testing strategy that meets your needs.

What are the benefits of drug testing remote employees?

Whether you have local employees working from home or you’re running a global team, there are several key benefits to drug testing your remote employees that can apply, even when you don’t see your staff face-to-face.

Enhanced Productivity

Among the biggest challenges that remote workers face is the ability to keep a productive work schedule apart from a traditional office setting.

This problem becomes even more critical when the employees engage in regular drug use while working from home, hindering your team’s capacity to achieve consistent growth.

Recent studies have shown that employees who are subject to regular drug testing are less likely to abuse these substances, making them more focused on the tasks at hand.

In other words, a drug-free workplace doesn’t just apply to your office building. It applies to every extension of your operation and can drive up your team’s productivity, no matter where they’re working from.

Reduced Turnover

Losing a team member can be a significant blow to your daily operations, and leave you in a constant state of recruiting and hiring.

Statistically, employees with frequent drug use are more likely to abandon a job within the first few months, making them a potential liability for business owners looking for long-term stability.

Employee drug testing, even for remote work, is an easy way to eliminate this risk and reduce your turnover rate by weeding out candidates with regular drug habits.

Fewer Medical Costs

If you provide company health insurance for your employees, then maintaining a drug-free workplace can help you prevent costly medical emergencies for your staff.

Not only do these policies discourage drug abuse amongst your team members, reducing the risk of medical intervention, but they also encourage a workplace culture centered around health and well-being.

And when your team is living a balanced and healthy lifestyle, your business thrives from the inside out.

Incentivize Investors

When you’re looking to attract eager investors to help your business grow, having outstanding workplace policies is a great way to showcase the quality of your operation and put your best performance forward.

For many investors, a drug-free work environment is a major consideration for engaging in a mutually beneficial business partnership.

If your employees can submit for random drug testing, you can create reliable records that can be used to entice investors and solidify existing relationships.

Prevent Drug Abuse

As an employer, you care about the health and success of each member of your team.

But if a staff member is struggling with substance abuse, you may be unable to see the signs and offer help before the issue has spiraled beyond control.

With drug testing for remote employees, you can quickly assess whether a worker may be developing a drug use problem, so that you can provide the necessary support they need to start the recovery process.

This allows you to navigate a complex topic with care and compassion, fostering a safe environment for employees to better themselves while working from home.

What are the challenges of remote drug testing?

Of course, drug testing for remote employees isn’t always as simple as drug testing your on-site staff.

For example, if your team members are working remotely in another state or even another country, you’ll need to arrange for sample collections at a drug testing facility near where your employee is located.

With that being said, many drug testing labs are quickly evolving their practices to meet the growing demand for remote drug testing options, making it easier than ever to find reliable screening resources anywhere your team may be working.

What drugs should I test my remote employees for?

Once you’ve determined whether or not drug testing for remote employees is the right choice for your business, you’ll need to craft a drug-free policy that reflects your company values and eliminates hazardous substances from your work environment.

Here are the most common substances employers may find during a routine drug screening…


Of course, many adults may partake in drinking alcohol regularly without seeing any negative impacts on their work life.

But if your remote workers use dangerous equipment or operate any heavy machinery, you’ll want to ensure that they remain completely sober anytime they’re on the job.

By testing for alcohol use, you can reduce the risk of work-related accidents and discourage substance abuse for remote employees.


Despite becoming more widely used for both medicinal and recreational purposes, marijuana can still pose a significant threat to your team’s productivity when used during working hours.

Unless you have a team member with a medical exemption for marijuana use, you should consider screening your remote teammates for high levels of THC, the chemical in weed that produces a “high” effect.

Amphetamines and/or Methamphetamines

Certain types of amphetamines, including methamphetamines or “meth”, are known to produce a mood-altering effect in users that can quickly lead to dependency and abuse.

And while some forms of amphetamines may be prescribed in a hospital setting, the majority of these drugs are obtained illegally, making them a significant liability for employers.

Many drug testing centers recommend pre-screening employees for potential amphetamine usage, as well as submitting them for random drug testing throughout the year.


For employees working from home, the use of cocaine as a stimulant can keep them awake and energized for hours at a time, leading to a “crash” and harmful withdrawal symptoms.

Today, cocaine is rarely used as a medical treatment, meaning the employees who test positive for coke have likely obtained this substance illegally.

If you want to encourage a balanced work environment, testing for cocaine can help you eliminate this dangerous “up and down” cycle that many users experience and maintain a stable operation.


Despite their tendency to create dependency in users, opiates are a type of potent pain management drug that is often used in hospitals when other painkillers have proven to be ineffective.

However, when used frequently, opiates can cause the individual to become drowsy and confused, making it difficult to keep up with daily office tasks.

With the exception of certain medical conditions, opiates should be avoided through drug testing, especially for remote employees who work from home.

Pros Vs. Cons of Remote Employee Drug Testing:

Maintaining a drug-free workplace both at the office and remotely is an essential aspect of long-term business success.

That’s why it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of drug testing for remote employees, so you can create a policy that meets your goals.


  • Increases productivity for employees working from home
  • Encourages overall health and well-being on the job
  • Reduces the risk of medical emergencies and work-related accidents
  • Creates an appealing environment for potential investors
  • Supports employees who are seeking recovery from substance abuse


  • May require remote testing coordination
  • Screenings might include substances that employees have a legal prescription for

At S&G Labs, we’ve streamlined the drug testing process to make getting the results you deserve fast, simple, and convenient.