The Digitalization of the Pocket Guide for the Public Service: Finding new work modalities across UNDP using a Hybrid Virtual Development Assignment Programme (VDAP)

September 12, 2023

In our previous blog, we shared the story of how we digitized the Pocket Guide 2.0. and relatedly, the induction and orientation process with the Office of the Prime Minister. In this blog, we will share the story of how we used an interesting and novel work modality, the Virtual Development Assignment Programme to test a hybrid work arrangement across UNDP to co-create the concept and design user experiences to digitalise the Pocket Guide.

The Virtual Development Assignment Programme

The VDAP is hosted by the Talent Development Unit (TDU) under the Office of Human Resources using the Fuel 50 platform. Fuel 50 is a talent marketplace that sources appropriate internal talent across UNDP. The VDAP was designed to test a hybrid work modality, where team members would work together remotely for most of the assignment but would meet in person for a few key milestones.

The Team

The team consisted of six members, from the UNDP Namibia Accelerator Lab, myself, Omagano Kankondi, the Head of Solutions Mapping, Dr Maria Ausiku, UNDP Namibia’s IT Associate, Dr Gaelle Bruneau, a Web and Communications Specialist from UNDP Headquarters, Boris Rebic, An ICT Project Manager and specialist from UNDP Montenegro and Kemal Bajramovic, the Head of Experimentation from UNDP Bosnia Herzegovina’s Accelerator Lab. The team met once a week for six weeks to plan the design of the project, develop the learning experiences, and finally run the user journeys to co-create the content and materials for the Pocket Guide.

The Co-Design Process

The team used a co-design process to involve public servants in the development of the new version of the pocket guide. They held a series of focus groups with the Office of the Prime Minister to get their feedback on the content and design of the modules. The team also met with a group of public servants from Offices, Ministries and Agencies as well as Regional Councils comprising of the Integrity champions, ICT professionals and specialists  and Learning  and Development Officers   to get their feedback on the user experience of the modules.

Learning Reflections

The new digital pocket guide will be launched at the end of 2023. The feedback from public servants has been overwhelmingly positive. They appreciate the fact that the information will now be more accessible and that they can learn at their own pace.

Here are some of the key learnings on the VDAP itself:

  • Virtual Development Assignment Programmes can be a successful way to draw on internal expertise and internal talent across the world.

  • It is important to have a clear but broad goal for the project and to involve not only the project team but also the clients (in this case the public service) in the design process.

  • Use a hybrid VDAP modality to keep the team engaged and to incentivise the experience– the first part of the VDAP experience was intensive and met online using teams and online collaboration tools such as MURAL. The in-person event consolidated relationships and continued to build camaraderie.

  • Regular feedback to the team and check-ins were important – it was a journey of intense highs and  lows amidst few disappointments where things were not always going according to plan, but also celebrations.

The project us to now, has been  a success, and it shows the potential of using the hybrid virtual development assignment modality to improve the way UNDP works across offices. The team was able to work effectively together despite being located in different countries. They were also able to co-design a user-centered solution that met the needs of the public servants. I therefore believe that this project is a model for how UNDP can use a hybrid VDAP modality to source internal talent and use it as an immersive experience to operationalise the future of work as part of the way it addresses learning and development. This approach has the potential to save time and money, and it can also help to improve the learning experience.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please visit the Fuel 50 platform. You can also contact me at

I hope this blog has inspired you to consider launching your own Hybrid VDAP in your own Country Office or workplace. This approach has the potential to improve the way you introduce learning and development, build camaraderie and enhance morale, and it can also help you to save time and money by drawing on internal talent and expertise.