Working from home (WFH) can be a huge transition for anyone who has very little to no experience with this work arrangement. Such a transition can be jarring to a full-time office worker who needs the resources in the office and misses the socializing and camaraderie with officemates.
Many of these office workers have even come to establish a solid work-life balance, so that WFH is perceived to be intrusive into their private lives.
On the other hand, those who have decided to go into freelance remote work may find it difficult to adapt to the work culture of their employees or clients.
It is because of these reasons and more that a work from home buddy system should be implemented in a WFH set up.
What is a Work From Home Buddy System?
When you talk about the “buddy system” in general, it is an onboarding procedure wherein an existing employee is assigned to be a guide – or be a “buddy” to – a new hire.
A buddy should be differentiated from a supervisor or a mentor, who are both in higher positions in the company hierarchy. The supervisor provides guidance and advice in improving job performance while the mentor promotes the employee’s professional and personal development within the company.
The buddy specifically serves the purpose of providing guidance and answering questions on how the company operates and other procedural issues.
What A Good Buddy Should and Should Not Be
A good and effective buddy should possess the following characteristics:
- Have well-rounded knowledge of the company, its mission, and values
- Have a positive outlook and willingness to be the face of the company
- Have the ability and willingness to guide others
- History of strong past job performance
- Should always be accessible to the new hire or remote worker
- Have the knowledge and skills in the new hire’s job
- Must be a peer of the new employee
- Possesses excellent interpersonal and communication skills
- Is highly accepted and regarded by his/her current co-workers
On the other hand, a person may not be a good buddy because of the following reasons:
- If, right from the start, they refuse to be a buddy to a new hire (Reasons for refusal include the extra work involved in training a new hire, don’t want the added responsibility, or don’t share the same temperament as the new employee.)
- Employee assigned to be a buddy has not yet met a full year of service, so may not possess the extensive knowledge and expertise needed to guide and support a new hire
- Is close to retirement
- Is a disgruntled employee
- Is about to go on an extended leave or vacation during the new employee’s first few months on the job
Types of Buddies and Their Responsibilities
The social media company Buffer assigns three types of buddies for a smooth onboarding process for their new hires, both in-office and remote:
- Role buddy – provides early guidance by encouraging questions about the workplace, procedures, and job expectations. The role buddy is the person to go to for immediate advice. In addition, role buddies encourage knowledge sharing in the belief that the new employee can also provide new knowledge and teach new techniques that they have learned from their previous workplace
- Culture buddy – teaches the new employee about the company’s history and culture. They can be counted upon to provide support whenever problems in the workplace occur. They also offer constructive feedback to new employees.
- Mastermind buddy – Commonly assigned to a new employee after three months, this buddy shares a similar work journey, experiences, and interests as the co-worker he/she will be guiding. In fact, a mastermind buddy can be considered as a new hire’s true peer, helping to foster and develop a sense of belonging and camaraderie between the new employee and members of the company.
Implementing a WFH Buddy System
How do you go about implementing a WFH buddy system in your company? Here are the steps on establishing such a program:
1) Formulate and incorporate important details of your WFH buddy system.
These details should include your objectives, roles and responsibilities of the assigned buddies, rules and regulations to be followed, time frame in which the buddy system is to done, etc.
2) Identify potential buddies within the company’s various departments.
Interview them to determine if they possess the qualifications to become buddies and if they are willing to assume this role.
3) Because your chosen buddy will be dealing with a remote or WFH employee.
You must guarantee that both the buddy and the WFH employee have remote work devices and other equipment needed for communication.
4) Make it a point to review the buddy process with the chosen buddy on a regular basis.
This way, any orientations or guidance will not veer away from the company’s mission and values.
5) Provide a list of topics that the buddy needs to cover with the new employee.
This could include something as simple as a meet and greet between the new employee, the buddy, and co-workers, sharing of work experiences, acquainting them to various departments, and explanations on commonly used apps and software.
6) Encourage knowledge sharing after a few weeks on the job.
As the buddy provides information on the inner workings of the company, they should also encourage the new employee to share knowledge and techniques that they have learned from their previous workplace or job experience.
7) Throughout the course of the buddy program, evaluations should be done to determine its effectiveness.
This procedure may include personal interviews with the buddy and the employee he/she is assigned to, answering a simple questionnaire, or conducting a focus group with all the buddies and their assigned employees.
Among the questions that need to be asked are “Has the buddy been helpful to you?”, “Rate the ease by which you have guided/supervised the new employee assigned to you”, “Any changes that you would like to suggest for the improvement of the buddy program?”, and “Are there any tools or software that you suggest which can help improve the buddy program?”
A work from home buddy system can help facilitate the painless entry of a new remote worker into your company. Just follow our tips above and you are guaranteed to have an effective WFH buddy program!
If you’re looking for other resources on working from home, be sure to check out our Complete Guide To Working From Home to get you started!