COVID-19 has changed the way we work, and in far too many cases, left talented professionals out of work altogether. In-person meetings and events are no longer viable for public health and safety reasons, and client missions that depend on these physical engagements have had to rapidly pivot and adapt their strategies. Fortunately, Ripple Effect has been able to adapt our own processes and practices to deliver the project management, event and meeting support, and virtual infrastructure our clients need to remain successful. Below is a short review of how we’ve helped some of our clients work smarter and perform better throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
A New Program to Support Local Communities and Workers
As COVID-19 left so many workers unexpectedly out of work and struggling, Ripple Effect saw an opportunity to pivot and help those in need—specifically, local professionals who had been furloughed or laid off during the pandemic. In late April, we launched the “Furlough to Fellow” program, a short-term fellowship program (~4-6 weeks) for mid-career professionals who lost their primary sources of income due to COVID-19.
The program helps those professionals earn new income, learn new skills, and support Ripple Effect business initiatives, from human resources to finance and strategic growth. The hyperlink above provides more details in a blog post featuring our COO, Jennifer Pohlhaus, introducing viewers to the program via video. Our first Furlough to Fellow cohort featured four local professionals, and we have a second cohort fellows slated to start in June.
Transitioning from Face-to-Face to Virtual Focus Groups
Client: NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE)
Capabilities: Policy & Program Management, Research & Evaluation
The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) is a division of the Office of Intramural Research (OIR), Office of the Director (OD) with a mission to enhance the training experience of students and fellows on all NIH campuses.
Ripple Effect has been conducting a longitudinal evaluation with OITE on the effectiveness of its wellness training programs. As COVID-19 affected the viability of face-to-face meetings, planned focus groups with program participants needed to find a virtual solution. Ripple Effect set up and migrated focus groups to an online meeting platform, helped secure participation from stakeholders, and trained OITE moderators on how to probe focus group participants in virtual settings—to better gauge reactions and capture feedback in real time. This change has led to three successful focus groups to date, with more to come. Most importantly, the evaluation has stayed on track and will allow OITE to better understand the success of its programs in the planned time frame and on budget.
Moving Regional Workshops to Virtual Settings
Client: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP)
Capabilities: Communications & Outreach, Event Support
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) plays a vital role in keeping the nation healthy by setting national public health objectives and supporting programs, services, and education activities that improve the health of all Americans.
Two ODPHP initiatives, Healthy Aging and the National Youth Sports Strategy, were slated to host several in-person regional events between now and September 2020. Due to COVID-19, some of these events will convert to virtual settings this year, while others may be pushed to 2021. Ripple Effect has helped ODPHP manage this transition, presenting alternative options for virtual agendas, platforms, and interactivity, to help meet the original meeting objectives of connecting and engaging stakeholders. We’ve provided our clients alternative strategies to host meetings and events without losing engagement, and to use technology to enhance its mission, rather than hinder it.
Project Management Pivots to Ensure Successful Strategic Planning
Client: NIH National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
Capabilities: Policy & Program Management – Strategic Planning, Project Management, Qualitative Analysis, Graphic Design
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is the driving force for advancing genomics research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest biomedical research agency in the world.
NHGRI is currently developing a Genomics Workforce Diversity Strategic Plan, which involves interviewing leaders in the field across a variety of capabilities and disciplines. As COVID-19 broke out in March, Ripple Effect held a virtual project kick-off meeting with this new client. The strategic plan is under a tight development timeline, so keeping the Genomics Workforce Diversity Working Group and subcommittees engaged and on track was a key concern for NHGRI. We helped NHGRI kick off its effort in a virtual environment and rapidly set up video meetings to build trust and personal connections. To launch this strategic planning effort in April, we provided logistical, administrative, and analytical support to set up the virtual interviews with leaders in the field. Accompanied by a SharePoint site we developed for working group members to access and share information, this rapid shift to a virtual environment has positioned NHGRI’s Genomics Workforce Diversity Working Group for success as it builds its strategic plan.
Launching New Platforms to Improve Collaboration and Processes
Client: NIH Office of Research Facilities (ORF)
Capabilities: Strategic Staffing
The NIH Office of Research Facilities supports the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mission by providing, maintaining, and operating safe, healthy, and attractive facilities. ORF operates as a “Central Service” and reports directly to the Office of Management (OM), located within the Office of the Director.
As COVID-19 forced ORF’s workforce to work remotely, our team recognized a need to set up new information databases for ORF staff to maintain productivity and ease virtual collaboration. We designed, developed, and launched three SharePoint sites, accompanied by demos and trainings for how to use each site. The COVID-19 SharePoint site serves as a repository for ORF COVID response documents and communications, while the Data Intake site stores all data calls for ease of response. These internal site launches have helped all ORF parties draft, review, and finalize documents, and streamlined processes for ORF budget submission across the fiscal year.