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Leading through change: How we’re navigating remote work at Asana

March 31st, 2020
3 min read
Leading through change: How we’re navigating remote work at Asana article banner image

Asana’s north star has always been the well-being of our employees and serving our customers. As global teams—including our own—have transitioned to distributed workforces in recent weeks, our commitment to helping the world’s teams thrive and leading consciously is now more important than ever. Businesses are looking for ways to stay connected and coordinated while also managing and working remotely. We believe that every member of the team has an important role in building our culture, and in uncertain times, we value the perspective of our leaders to help guide the way.

“Take care of yourselves. Take care of our customers.” — Chris Farinacci, Head of Business 

At Asana, every employee’s ability to do their most impactful work starts with our leadership team upholding a culture of trust and transparency. Here’s what they focus on in their own words, and the advice they have for other leaders navigating big changes to their teams’ remote work environment.

Keep your team’s focus on the mission and customers 

“All Asanas are deeply passionate and driven by our mission, and having a culture of trust and transparency during uncertain times will help us achieve it. Everything we do is in service of our mission and our customers, and we are committed to helping the world’s teams work together effortlessly, especially now.” — Dustin Moskovitz, Co-founder and CEO 

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Put on your own oxygen mask first

“Take care of yourself and the people you love, first. Figure out the schedule that works for you and your family and let others know via your calendar. Doing this will invite and encourage others to do the same.” — Anna Binder, Head of People 

Support your teammates 

In times of ambiguity and transition, it’s important to remember that everyone experiences things differently. Many teammates are now juggling multiple responsibilities at home, including schooling and caretaking. To keep them feeling supported, we try to approach every situation with “Heartitude,” a core Asana value that stands for making space to express our feelings and having empathy for other perspectives. 

“We are a team. Teams weather storms together. Be patient with one another, ask for help when you need it, and have realistic expectations of one another. Extend grace, patience, and support to those who are late to meetings or are behind on their inbox, especially if they’re supporting their loved ones at home.”  — Alex Hood, Head of Product 

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“Try a virtual team stand up where everyone shares a goal for the day along with any updates—personal or professional—that they want everyone to know. Even a question prompt like, ‘What expectations of normal are you letting go of today?’ Or ‘Who are you checking in on or connecting with?’ can help foster connection and focus for the day.” — Steph Hess, Head of Corporate Marketing 

Stay connected virtually and managing a team

At Asana, we are collaborators and champions for each other. A strong sense of connection, wellbeing, and teamwork allows us to keep moving forward to achieve our goals together. We recognize that it can be difficult to feel the same sense of focus that you have in the office when you’re working remotely. We have to show empathy to ourselves in order to best support our families, customers, and colleagues. 

Empower your managers to lead with empathy

“We care deeply about the well-being of our teams and want to provide them with space to feel all of their feelings about the craziness that’s going on right now. This means discouraging folks from booking their calendar with back-to-back meetings all day, and reinforcing that it’s okay to prioritize a supportive phone call to a friend or parent who needs them.” — Prashant Pandey, Head of Engineering

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Acknowledge what’s hard

“Commit to leading consciously. Encourage your teams to take breaks, rest, and let them know they aren’t alone. The rhythm and pace of our work right now has changed and how we defined a productive day before might look and feel different now. That change can be disorienting for teams, so acknowledge it and empower them to put a pause on the non essentials to create more space and flexibility.” — Steph Hess, Head of Corporate Marketing 

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Establish communication norms

“Proactively communicate and encourage everyone on your team to share information. Actively ask questions and share your point of view—even if it may seem obvious. At the end of each week, check in on whether the channels and cadence of communications felt right. Explicitly asking your team how they prefer to communicate will help ensure that everyone stays aligned and connected.” — Sonja Gittens-Ottley, Head of Diversity & Inclusion

“Communicate early and often. Being real with each other is core to Asana’s culture and allows us to stay informed and engaged.” — Dave King, Head of Marketing

Forge virtual connections

“Be human. The CDC’s guidance on ‘social distancing’ is really about ‘physical distancing.’ We still need human connection. In fact I would say it’s more important than ever to find ways to connect with customers and one another—even if it’s just via video, Asana, or Slack.”  — Dave King, Head of Marketing

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Focus on gratitude

“My silver lining is that we are lucky to have our product to keep us connected. Though we are forced to work apart, it goes without saying that this shared experience will ultimately bring us closer together.” — Dustin Moskovitz, Co-founder and CEO 

Is your team working remotely? Learn how Asana can help and sign up for free. Or, if you’re interested in working side by side these inspiring leaders, check out opportunities to join our team today.

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