For a week in September, I got to play the role of an Asana employee and capture the office and culture of the company. Sure, they have a rad office that used to be a beer factory, but Asana has so much more than just a cool workspace. Asana’s product is all about helping teams collaborate more effectively and after seeing how their company operates, they appear to be masters of just that.
One thing that struck me during my visit is the fact that everyone seems to be on an equal playing field: I would commonly ask, “Who’s your boss?” and get the same response, “We don’t really have bosses.” Now, this isn’t to say that there isn't leadership, because I definitely saw people leading and supporting their teams. I just think Asana approaches this differently than most companies and it's really refreshing. Some people have the traits to lead and others may not—this way of working just allows people to find what works best for them and their team's productivity.
The result of this kind of leadership shows throughout the company. I’ve been in many offices doing what I do and, more often than not, I can sense tension in the workplace. I’m never around long enough to know why, but I pick up the general vibe. The vibe of Asana is something entirely different: People are much more at ease, honest, motivated, and overall appear much happier to be at work. Even I was really happy to come to the office while I was there (of course the food didn’t hurt).
Food is a whole other topic. The Asana Culinary Team is so passionate about what they do and take so much pride in it. They treat everyone like family and know countless employees by name. The food is not only very healthy, but also tastes like cuisine you’d pay good money for. A line forms each day moments before the Café opens—people are stoked about this food. Everyone eats together at large tables overlooking vistas of the beautiful city of San Francisco and are super engaged with their coworkers. Everyone seemed more like really close friends than coworkers. On Friday, a second line formed for whatever treat Amy, their pastry chef, made that day (gluten free and vegan options too!)
To be honest, I don’t use Asana, the product. Since I’m a freelancer, I don’t think it’s the best tool for me. But after spending a week at Asana—sitting in on meetings, picking up on new lingo, and seeing how efficiently the company works—I would vouch for their product. And what’s even better is that they use their product to run their company and work to improve it every day. Being a fly on the wall at a company that is all about helping other companies work together more effectively, I noticed there is some magic here. And even though I was at Asana to take photographs, no series of stills can convey the experience of being there in person and seeing these people work together.