As COVID-19 spread around the world, shutting down whole countries and creating uncertainty for everyone, Panagora quickly organized an internal response team and moved in mid-March to full remote work. As we faced an indefinite period of remote work, we drew on our deep experience with remote project management and leveraged our mostly local staff structure to adapt to existing conditions to continue to deliver high-quality programmatic work. We are so proud of our teams in our headquarters and around the world, who are showcasing the best of CLA – collaborating, learning, and adapting – to make this happen.
Thanks to focused use of video conferencing software, web-based collaboration tools, and remote management practices that are already routinized among our teams, we can stay connected to our colleagues and keep the work going.
Here are some of the amazing ways in which our teams have leveraged their CLA capabilities and remote management skills to pivot and adapt in this ever-changing landscape:
Panagora’s corporate response: We worked quickly to implement several company-wide initiatives to support our teams around the world and help everyone adjust to this ever evolving “new normal.” In our pivot to remote work, we developed detailed guidelines and policies for telework and remote project management, as most of our home office staff work to support our activities in other countries.
We made it a priority to provide financial assistance to our teams to offset the costs of setting up a home office and adopted flexible work and leave policies to help people cope with managing all sorts of new stressors because of this pandemic. Our response team sends out regular email updates to keep people informed and our “social committee” is doing a great job of keeping people engaged through activities that provide a time for fun and connection. To keep our global offices connected, we routinely share news, anecdotes, and stories over Slack, and our CEO addressed our teams around the world through a video message and is following it up with a town hall.
We are continuing to engage with our professional community through virtual conferences, calls, and even career fairs! And of course, we continue to advocate for small businesses and for more funding for global development, including critical global health programs that help address and prevent pandemics and other pressing health challenges that know no borders.
India: In March we launched a new activity, Collaborating, Learning and Adapting in India Mechanism (CLAIM). USAID/India designed the project to be remote from the start, with several work planning trips scheduled for the various team members. But when the COVID-19 crisis intensified, India went into total lockdown and we had to pivot along with USAID/India and cancel our work travel. We then organized all the launch activities, including work planning and team building, remotely. We are off and running in simultaneously carrying out our first 10 task orders, with remote team leaders providing international best practices in multiple evaluations, assessment, and support to core mission work processes.
Philippines: Panagora’s USAID-funded Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting for Improved Health activity is working diligently to support the USAID/Philippines Office of Health with ongoing health programming and its COVID-19 response. The CLAimHealth team hosts two weekly virtual meetings for USAID and all its partners to coordinate response information and actions. In late March, we helped facilitate two major workshops with USAID, the Philippines Department of Health, and implementing partners to manage health programs and also supported the USAID/Philippines Office of Health to virtually host the 7th CLA technical work group meeting with implementing partners.
Colombia: Our team in Colombia moved to remote work in March and is using platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts to stay connected and continue work planning and implementation, including performing data collection and data quality assessments. We recently held a three-day annual team building workshop over Zoom, including simultaneous translation, interactive activities involving short polls, and breakout room work for 35 people. Further, we are issuing RFPs for local data collection, where the bidders must provide options for in-person and remote data collection. Our team there is also supporting USAID/Colombia by providing evidence, data, and learning as they adapt their Mission strategy to accommodate challenges related to COVID-19.
South Africa: Panagora has two USAID-funded activities in South Africa and is supporting the USAID Mission and the Government of South Africa’s response to COVID-19. Our team has been helping to consolidate and edit COVID-19 funding proposals for response activities, supporting procurement and supply chain systems, and helping to keep routine HIV monitoring going so that critical health programs can continue during the pandemic. Panagora is using virtual workspaces and tools such as Monday.com and Slack to facilitate internal coordination and rapid communication. Staff whose roles inhibit them from working full time at home participate in the team meetings, and Panagora is working to identify opportunities to maintain their engagement, such as holding refresher courses on relevant policies and procedures.
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we are determined as a company to continue delivering high-quality work, which helps improve aid effectiveness through robust monitoring, evaluation, and learning activities, and supports critical monitoring and supply chain efforts that get goods and services where they are needed most.