Asana’s Workload tool aims to prevent worker burnout

The new feature gives managers an all-in-one view of employees’ project workloads and lets them reassign or reschedule tasks accordingly.

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Asana has added a tool to help managers monitor their team members’ workloads at a glance.

The new feature will grant better visibility into work assignments and help to prevent employee burnout by enabling project leaders to rebalance workloads when necessary, said Alex Hood, head of product at Asana. “It leads to better outcomes, more projects done on time, more transparency, and visibility that leads to fewer surprises,” said Alex Hood, head of product at Asana.

Asana, founded by Facebook co-creator Dustin Moskovitz and software engineer Justin Rosenstein, is a collaborative work management app that lets users track and manage tasks on an individual, team or organization-wide basis.

The introduction of Workload view — available to subscribers to Asana’s Business and Enterprise plans — provides a visualization of tasks allocated to individuals within Asana.

Managers and team members can select a range of metrics to track workloads, such as the number of tasks assigned to a worker or the number of hours that specific tasks are expected to require. Managers can also create custom fields to measure team and worker capacity. Alerts can then be set notify managers and team leaders when an individual has reached a set limit.

It is also possible for employees to update their own capacity: Asana said such estimations are often a joint activity between project leads and individual teammates.

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Asana's Workload view shows team members' workloads in a single view. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC, said the Workload feature could enable team leaders to balance workloads more effectively and even help them make the case for increasing headcount when work piles up.

“One of the nicer features is that the admin can define what unit of measure is being used to balance, as not all projects are equally demanding or should be measured in hours,” he said.

As well as providing managers with visibility into available bandwidth, Workload can help workers avoid burnout by helping to ensure that work is evenly and fairly distributed across a team, said Hood. Burnout was recently acknowledged by the World Health Organization as an “occupational phenomenon.”

“The benefit to information workers is that their work-life balance improves because [their workload] is smoothed out; there are fewer peaks and troughs,” said Hood. It also allows workers to see that tasks have been allocated fairly and that they are not overburdened compared to colleagues. “That is the kind of thing that in a microcosm causes folks to get jaded and burnout to occur.”  

The feature also reduces the need for managers to regularly check up on workers to see if they are able to take on more work. “Those interactions can feel micromanage-y, and that's a pain point,” said Hood. 

A holistic work management approach

The introduction of the Workload view is part of Asana’s broader strategy to extend the focus of its app from managing tasks at an individual and team level to providing a higher-level view of work across an organization. This coincides with wider adoption of the app within larger customer organizations, said Hood, moving from team-by-team adoption to “wall-to-wall” deployments in some cases.

To this end, Asana has in the past 18 months launched features including a Timeline view for visualizing project schedules and Portfolios, which provides an overview of important projects underway. The company also launched a vertical solution aimed at marketing and creative professionals.

“Ultimately, we would like to be the GPS not just for your team but for your whole company,” said Hood. This means offering visibility into work planning from a corporate strategy level right down to individual task completion. “That is the real benefit that we are offering, and these new features over the last year like Timelines, Portfolios, Asana for Marketing and Creative Teams, and now Workload, deliver on that vision.” 

“Asana has been successful at reaching beyond traditional project management and IT [teams], especially with marketing,” said IDC’s Kurtzman. “Either Asana alone, or integrated with collaboration apps, brings together ad hoc teams often comprised of agencies, consultants, employees and leaders across several stakeholder groups. Clarity of tasks and timelines through better communications results in savings of time and money.”

Asana raised $50 million in its most recent funding round at the end of last year, at a valuation of more than $1.5 billion, and achieved annual recurring revenues of more than $100 million during 2018. A recent report from MarketsandMarkets predicted that global spending on work management apps is set to rise from $2.27 billion in 2018 to $4.33 billion by 2023. Asana faces competition from a range of SaaS tools focused on this market, including Trello, Smartsheet, Basecamp and Microsoft Planner.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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