I am a big believer in the buddy system. For me, the buddy system means that you have someone to help hold you accountable, to help support you and that you provide the same to them. I worked in retail for over a decade and found the buddy system was crucial in order to run our business. not just for handling cash or ensuring the jewelry safe was counted but for emotional support as well.
The buddy system is something we value at the Fish Interfaith Center as well. All our student docents use the buddy system to move furniture to set for all sorts of events from Catholic Mass to Meditation. We have a standard in the smaller, Wilkinson Founders Chapel, that can switch toppers to be different religious symbols. The docents all know that this is most definitely a buddy system task. But more than that, the buddy system means that they work together, support each other, learn from each other and build bonds that last well beyond their time at the Fish Interfaith Center. Lifting the chancel furniture together in a buddy system becomes a metaphor for life.
Practically speaking, the buddy system can enhance work productivity and work satisfaction of employees (SHRM, 2017). And the actual term, buddy system, started in the safety industry to enhance mutual safety in hazardous situations (Singh, 2015). A buddy system at work overall, can help welcome new employees, develop confidence, address emergency situations and decrease external risks (Singh, 2015).
Buddies in personal life can also be a benefit. Buddies celebrate with you in joy and comfort you in sorrow (Fuller, 2017). Buddies also help you develop new social skills; having a person different from yourself gives you a different lens to look at situations through (Fuller, 2017). Buddies help broaden your prospective and can diversify the way you are able to approach life. Buddies will also help hold you accountable to your goals (Fuller, 2017).
Buddies additionally help us to break down stereotypes. Eboo Patel states that if you make a friend from a different faith tradition other than your own, this helps to break down any stereotypes you might have about that faith tradition or other faith traditions (Patel, 2012). Patel states that “bridging, or working together, both increases social capital and strengthens social cohesion” (Patel, 2012 pg. 76).
From work life to personal life, the buddy system helps to enhance life! During these trying times of the pandemic we must reach out and find our buddies and buddy system our way through, continually supporting and continually improving! #BuddySystem
Some quotes from Alumni reflecting on what the buddy system means to them:
“I was a docent for 3 and a half years, and found the buddy system to be the most beneficial aspect of my time at the Fish Interfaith Center. During buddy shifts, I was not only able to complete the tasks requiring two or more student workers, but I also got to know my fellow docents. Many of us come from different spiritual and cultural backgrounds, and the meaningful discussions we shared during a buddy shift not only enhanced my knowledge of interfaith work, but exposed me to the importance of discourse and reflection. I truly believe the buddy system – as an approach to work and life – has the capacity to build remarkable relationships, teach valuable lessons, and inspire important change in even the most casual atmospheres. I have been a docent alum for 2 and a half years now, and I still adhere to the important lessons of the buddy system, whether with my roommates, friends, family, or colleagues. When life gets difficult, its so important to know there’s a buddy to count on.” – Justin Robinson ‘18
“The Buddy System is not only the best way to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently, it is also the best way to create strong friendships between coworkers. It’s really about building trust. When you are moving the chancel table off of the dais, you need to be able to trust your buddy to be holding up their end. When you are locking up the building during a closing shift, you need to be able to trust that your buddy is right there next to you double checking the locks. And when you can’t figure out your major or what to do with the rest of your life, it’s about trusting and knowing that your buddy will be there to talk you through anything. The buddy system has instilled in me the importance of having people that you can rely on at any point in your journey through life.” – Bryleigh Blaise ’20
Fuller, M. (2017). Why do we need friends? Six benefits of healthy friendships. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201710/why-do-we-need-friends-six-benefits-healthy-friendships
Patel, E. (2012). Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Singh, R. (2015). 5 benefits of a buddy system at work. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-benefits-buddy-system-work-raj-singh-open-networker-
SHRM (2017). What is the advantage of a buddy system?. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/whatistheadvantageofabuddysystem.aspx