Man is a social animal. He needs to feel accepted and appreciated, establish emotional relationships and engage with others. These social needs must be satisfied in both private and professional life to preserve the individual’s mental health.

This isn’t the case when people work from remote.

Data confirms that an increasing percentage of remote workers ( 24%) feel lonely and isolated, finding it difficult to make the corporate culture their own and yearning to create truly meaningful relationships with colleagues.

Yet working remotely doesn’t have to be an experience to tackle alone.

Relating with others is fundamental for all-round well-being: it improves ones mood, helps one grow professionally and makes one feel appreciated. Above all, it preserves a sense of responsibility.

From desk buddy to remote buddy

The Buddy System has been around for decades, precisely since 1942.

The concept is simple: through a constant relationship, two colleagues provide each other with emotional and work-related support. The benefits vary from sector to sector, but generally gravitate around four areas:

  • Motivation
  • Stress management
  • Problem solving
  • Skill sharing

It’s no coincidence that this system has been increasingly implemented during onboarding: new employees have someone to turn to for the most mundane questions and everyday tasks right from the start. It’s a bit like getting to know your desk-mate: he or she isn’t necessarily a mentor, but in most cases becomes a trusted companion in everyday life.

But how can this system be transposed to remote work or hybrid contexts?

In these cases, the remote buddy system comes into play: the setting and the means change, but not the premises. Two colleagues, either matched by HR or mutually chosen (perhaps because they were desk mates before switching to remote) support each other day after day, thus reducing the distance created by the virtual workplace.

Perseverance, responsibility and flexibility on both sides are necessary, but above all character compatibility is required: without this last characteristic, disaster is inevitable. Just think about how you would act in the office: would you prefer to go for coffee with a colleague you get along with or with the one you can’t stand?

Basic rules for an effective remote buddy system

Having an ‘online buddy’ sounds simple, but it’s good to have clear guidelines right from the start so that the relationship can be fruitful for both people.

Here are some examples:

  • Identify mode and frequency of communication early on
  • Don’t indulge in gossip and judgements about other colleagues or managers
  • Avoid assuming the role of therapist (rather seek help from professionals within the company)
  • Avoid being too intrusive by forcing the colleague to open up
  • Identify a time of the week to discuss workloads and to give each other advice

It is said that he who finds a friend finds a treasure: in a company, the treasure is found by he who chooses the right buddy. This system can give invaluable support to people, increasing wellbeing and creating a positive and long lasting Employee Experience.

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