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The Importance of Implementing a Buddy System in Remote Work

As a leader, employee engagement and mental health are always at the forefront of my mind. Since November 2022, my team at Skyjed welcomed four new talented members, Simon, Mark, Lalinda and Lisa and to make their transition to remote work smoother, we implemented a Buddy System. This program has been a valuable, simple and free tool that has helped us to enhance employee engagement and mental well-being.

The Buddy System is based on the Harvard article, "The Power of Work Friends", which states that "friendships at work are linked to greater job satisfaction and employee engagement." 

At Skyjed, we aim to create a supportive network for new employees, helping them to adjust to their new environment and connect with their colleagues. The program has been a huge success and I would like to share here some of the learnings from our experience with other Founders or CEOs.

We started by profiling each new team member with their Buddy and asking them to share something about each person personally. This has been really helpful in getting to know each other better and creating a more connected team. As the Harvard article states, "The closer employees are to one another, the more likely they are to experience a sense of belonging, which can boost engagement."

Each new team member is assigned a Buddy, who they connect with on a weekly basis. This person is their go-to person to help them learn about Skyjed, our culture and how they can get things done remotely. The Buddy helps to provide support, answer questions and offer guidance, and also helps to create a sense of belonging for the new employee.

The following quotes from the onboarding of new team members are evidence of the success of the program so far:

Simon Tuddenham - joined in November 2022 - London, United Kingdom

For me, having a buddy has been (and continues to be) absolutely essential and welcomed. Not only am I working remotely 100%, but I'm also working from the other side of the world, in the UK! Given the associated challenges of an 11-hour time difference, having Helen as my buddy has been made extra easy due to her amazing level of flexibility for calls and support. It also helps that Helen and I are wired the same way with our passion for Product, and this alignment helps the conversations to flow really easily. The point is, to ensure your buddy is in the same area of work and mindset, and it makes the whole process much more effective. 

Mark Dong - joined in November 2022 - Sydney, Australia

The Buddy Program with Sue and Dani helped me to become part of the team more quickly. It provided me the opportunity to meet people from different departments and understand their responsibilities. It also adds value to the company culture by creating a welcome and involvement atmosphere. 

Lalinda Ranaweera - joined in November 2022 - Melbourne, Australia

As an UX designer, I work in different domains from time to time. When I joined Skyjed I didn’t have any prior knowledge or working experience in Product governance/management scope. So my objective was to get familiar with this domain and the awareness of the environment in which we all work, within a short period of time. The buddy program concept offers good comfort to new employees. When Tim was assigned to me as my buddy, my confidence level went up as I have some contact person here to ask about anything. Tim really helped me in the onboarding process by giving me continuous support and guidance in many ways. Tim wasn’t hesitated to spend his valuable time explaining certain things repeatedly to me when I wanted to clear some doubts. Having an idea about the big picture of the company is so important for my role, and It was so productive and efficient to get all company insights from one college who work closely with me, rather than going through all company documents and interviewing all employees. 

Lisa Marini - joined in January 2023 - Sydney, Australia

The Buddy program at Skyjed is an enjoyable and effective way to create engagement within the organisation and build connections with the team members. Most important, it makes you feel welcome! I find all this to be vital and even more meaningful when working remotely. I really enjoyed the first meeting with my Skyjed buddy Stephen. It was an informal talk and a good opportunity to ask questions about the team and their work, but not only! By the end of the chat, we had spontaneously generated exciting ideas and shared tips on how to cope with daily challenges. I look forward to the next catch-ups! (Lisa Marini)

We also included the Buddy System as a Key Result Area in our 90-day plans, making it a key initiative for the CEO to actively participate in. As the Harvard article says, "Leadership support can help create a culture in which friendships are valued and encouraged."

Last, we are introducing a new team member to the wider Skyjed team each week through our team forums and Slack greets. This helps to create a strong sense of community and encourages collaboration among our remote workers. As the Harvard article states, "Friendships at work can provide a sense of social support that can buffer the negative effects of stress and enhance resilience." 

In conclusion, implementing a Buddy System has been a fantastic experience for our team at Skyjed. It has helped to enhance employee engagement and mental well-being, and has created a supportive network for our new employees. If you are a Founder or CEO, I would highly recommend giving the Buddy System a try, it is simple and free to implement, and can have a profound impact on your team. As the Harvard article says, "Friendships at work have the power to increase job satisfaction, engagement, and well-being, and to provide a sense of community in a remote or dispersed workplace."

Thank you to Harvard Business Review for the inspiration – The Power of Work Friends

Clifton, J. (2022). The Power of Work Friends. Harvard Business Review.  

 About Skyjed

Skyjed is product lifecycle and governance platform. Skyjed’s AI powered end-to-end product platform brings data points across the entire product portfolio into a single source of product truth.  Skyjed was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in London with offices in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.  For more information visit Skyjed.