The Buddy System: Remote Onboarding made Simple

Catherine Mulder on

Two coworkers working together on a project

As professionals, everyone can relate to the new job nerves and excitement that comes with the start of a new opportunity. There are so many colleagues to meet, procedures to learn, and paperwork to complete. In a physical environment, this process can be difficult enough. Accomplishing a successful onboarding in a remote environment, can take this challenge to the next level. In the summer of 2020, faced with the difficulties of the pandemic and a growing team, Metadot created the “Buddy System”. It is a strategy designed to alleviate the extra stressors of the onboarding process, and create a positive experience built on efficiency and quality.

What is a Buddy?

A Buddy is a veteran of the company that has a strong understanding of procedures, systems, and what makes the company great. The Buddy is typically the first non-managerial person that the new-hire meets, and sets the standard for being a successful employee in their role. Acting as a constant resource and “go-to” person, the Buddy takes on the responsibility of creating an engaging onboarding experience. This individual knows the importance of the role, and forms a strong first-impression while simultaneously diminishing those new-job nerves.

How do we do it?

The Buddy is chosen prior to the new-hire’s start date, and is given an onboarding checklist template from our software, “Bamzooka”. Bamzooka is our software that helps document processes, organize work and improves the quality of our output through checklists. Our HR manager reviews the specific onboarding checklist and assigns tasks to the Buddy and the new-hire for completion throughout the first week. Starting with the Buddy introducing themself through an email or chat message, and scheduling a meeting with the new-hire the morning of their first day. We use this as an opportunity to give a warm welcome, and help answer any initial questions.

The morning of day one, the Buddy and new-hire meet via video chat before our team joins in a virtual huddle to kick off the week. This is where we establish expectations about what is to be learned, as well as build a direct connection for support. The meeting can include icebreaker questions, or be used as an opportunity to review the checklists and ensure the new-hire is comfortable with navigating the software.

What happens throughout the week?

Each day will start off with a 1-1 meeting between the Buddy and new hire to discuss any questions or concerns that may arise throughout the process. The Buddy then takes the opportunity to teach the new hire about our unique dress-code, task-management procedures, and arranges meetings to meet colleagues. Some of these topics include:

To stay on track and ensure that the process is working effectively, the Buddy receives daily reminders guided by the Bamzooka checklist.

How we finish strong after Week 1

On the last day of the first week, the roles reverse and it creates an opportunity for the new hire to take initiative. From the Bamzooka checklist template, the Buddy shares a custom survey with the new hire to hear their thoughts on the process. We encourage each new hire to leave honest, constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement. To ensure that this process only becomes more effective and efficient, direct conversations and analysis have been essential in smoothing out the difficulties. Overall, we see the end of the first week as an opportunity to celebrate, as well as an opportunity to develop a successful, team-oriented culture within our growing organization. The feedback survey is shared with our HR representative, and those in the management team utilize the responses to make positive enhancements to the system.

The professional relationship between the Buddy and new-hire doesn’t end after the first week, and the veteran employee continues to be a reliable resource for all future questions and ideas. For an easy adaptation, implementing the Buddy System created a much more simple, efficient way that has shown great results.