For 5 years in a row, Asana has been named a Fortune Best Place to Work. Read on to understand how culture has been baked into Asana’s DNA from its inception and how they scaled their culture in times of hyper-growth, an IPO, and now being a public company.
Asana has always been in hyper-scale and IPOed in 2020. Their growth is not slowing down, which kickstarted their search for a way to scale and streamline their culture.
For Asana, it was crucial to find a partner that was lean, innovative, and thought leaders in the employee experience space. After testing several solutions in the market, Epoch fit best for their values-driven culture and product-minded employees.
Introducing Ashley Frabasilio from Asana, an employee engagement extraordinaire! How did Ashley get into employee experience?
It’s clear from where Ashley is now and where she started, she has always obsessed about an individual’s experience at a company. For Ashley, an employee's experience with a company starts from their initial touchpoint through recruitment and interviewing, to the big and small moments, and rituals at a company.
The majority of Ashley’s career has always been in people programs. Before joining Asana, Ashley was at Uber. Ashley’s earlier roles focused on the initial touchpoints of an employees’ life cycle with a company: recruiting and interview training.
So what interested Ashley in moving along the employee lifecycle to owning employee engagement programs?
“There’s been more of an appetite for companies to focus on the holistic journey of an employee. It’s fascinating to identify where are the points that employees are super engaged, and where are the dips and spikes,” says Ashley Frabasilio. This is how she got into this new, emerging space.
Ashley has also been a part of Women ERGs (employee resource groups). Being able to meaningfully connect with her fellow workmates showed Ashley the power of communities within companies.
What is the culture of Asana?
“Asana views culture as a product. All of us at Asana play a part in co-creating and building our culture together. Culture is so core to Asana that the founders even created Asana’s values at our inception. This spoke volumes to me about how Asana prioritizes people first,” says Ashley.
It’s clear from the intentional employee engagement programs at Asana that culture is part of their lifeblood. From learning programs to DEI initiatives, Asana ensures that all employees are able to access opportunities for growth, learning, community and meaningful experiences.
How does scale impact culture and employee engagement? How do we help people feel informed and connected to what they’re working on?
Ashley has helped scale employee engagement at Asana and previously at Uber during both these companies’ times of exponential growth and IPOs.
Ashley views the time between a company’s pre-IPO to IPO as one of the most fascinating times for a company’s culture. The questions of how we can help employees find their community, what is “magic” for them at a company, and how to deliver it at scale is exciting for Ashley.
“[Scaling employee programs] is hard to do but with different platforms, like Epoch or Asana, there's more ways than ever now to make that possible. With these tools, folks are empowered in their journey at a company with clarity and connection,” says Ashley.
Ashley and her team at Asana internalize the fact that time and our health are the most important things we all have as humans. So why not treat the time at work with more significance and intentionality?
What kickstarted Asana’s search for a way to scale and streamline employee experience?
“At Asana, we are always talking about ‘how do we reduce work, about work?’” says Ashley. “We are in a time where there's so many apps and so much noise. How do we make things more clear?”
Asana wanted to find a way to personalize and deliver information to employees so that they know what is available to them and when things are happening, such that it is easily accessible.
All of this launched Ashley and her team to look for something that was light and simple for the end user, alongside having robust planning and communication capabilities.
As the world became remote-first and hybrid, being in an office together with word of mouth or posters to promote programs was no longer available. Many companies, like Asana, had to adapt quickly to our new digital-first world.
Being able to communicate effectively and clearly became crucial.
“And that’s how we found Epoch. Epoch fills these gaps for us. With Epoch, we are able to communicate in an accessible and clear way to our employees," says Ashley.
What was it like before Epoch?
Before Epoch, Asana had numerous sign-up forms and was using a mix of different communication strategies, causing more noise for employees than intended.
It was a challenge to ensure employee programs and events were accessible and user-friendly. Things were not centralized, and employees often had to go through clunky calendars and search through different places to find out what’s happening.
For Asana, they asked themselves: how do we find clarity for our people?
How Asana scaled and centralized employee programs with Epoch
“With Epoch, when Asana employees have interest in a topic, they can sort and search based on their interests, timezones, or through different community groups. And then in a matter of seconds, that event is on their calendar," says Ashley, as she thinks through how employees use Epoch at Asana.
“There's no extra legwork for the administrators, the planners or for the employee. Finding that light, easy solution where it feels like butter for everybody involved was really tricky, and Epoch just filled that gap for us," says Ashley.
Grassroot and organic growth of Epoch at Asana: Connecting different employee program owners via Epoch, from L&D, ERGs, company-wide rituals and more
“Within the second month of launching Epoch at Asana, we had folks organically reaching out to us like, ‘Hey, how do I organize my team’s All Hands? How do I plan my ERG event? I want to use Epoch!’” says Ashley.
“Something that was completely organic with Epoch was that we were able to scale the teams that helped organize folks wanting to gather based on different topics and groups,” says Ashley, as she discussed how Epoch supported teams from L&D to ERGs, Benefits, and more.
The value of Epoch at Asana was immediate, across its culture and for numerous teams.
Empowering teams, while saving time and resources with Epoch
“Rather than having a strategy where we have to hire more events people or spend time on all these robust systems and playbooks, we are able to just add folks into Epoch!” says Ashley.
“We love being able to connect and standardize different groups. With Epoch, we can easily share recommendations for best practices, alongside norms around the event itself.”
With Epoch, Asana has been able to equip different groups and teams with the ability to streamline their programs and events, as well as best practices and automation.
Implementation Epoch <> Asana
Implementation was one of the most important things to Ashley and her team when deciding on a platform. “For us, it came down to finding something accessible. After testing a variety of different platforms, there was nothing quite like Epoch on the market,” says Ashley.
For Ashley, the fluidity of collaboration and co-creation working with Epoch aligned really well with Asana’s values. The Asana team provided feedback and product ideas that aligned with Epoch’s product vision, which allowed for quick iterations and product development for requests.
“As soon as we chatted with Epoch’s team about some of our norms to help make a smooth implementation, it was like an instant brainstorm,” says Ashley.
“Epoch’s team is solutions-oriented and strives to make customer’s lives easier and better.”
How Asana creates and communicates employee programs Epoch
Asana has a Meeting Manifesto which underscores the importance of treating each meeting with intention. This translates into how Asana teams think about employee experience and culture.
At Asana, it is common practice to send ‘pre-reads’ before meetings. Pre-reads are like notifications that help employees gain context and share thoughts before a meeting. This allows meetings to be impactful and everyone gets the most out of their time together.
With Epoch, Asana is able to create workflows that automates Slack notifications and communuications for pre-before an upcoming meeting and event.
This has saved significant time for teams at Asana, as they no longer have to manually and individually send reminders, announcements, and information before an event or meeting.
For employees, Epoch helps them seamlessly switch gears and be equipped with information before going into a separate meeting or event.
How Asana makes data-driven decisions with Epoch
At Asana, belonging and inclusion is at the forefront of their decision-making.
“Gone are the days of thinking if 15 or 500 people attending was a successful event. It’s not about attendance. It’s about engagement and impact."
“Data fuels the power of making impactful decisions. Being able to understand reporting [through Epoch] has helped us make better decisions on how we invest in programs from a time and resourcing perspective.”
Rather than continuing an event because that was the status quo, Asana now uses Epoch to be strategic in reviewing feedback and reporting, and then applying that to their approach in how they engage employees. This has been incredibly valuable for Asana to understand what programs are most engaging, where to invest more in, and how to better provide initiatives in the future.
“Being able to understand reporting [through Epoch] has helped us make better decisions on how we invest in programs from a time and resourcing perspective.”
– Ashley Frabasilio
How employees at Asana are finding their communities and seamlessly accessing programs with Epoch
“There’s no barrier to entry with Epoch, for the admins or employees."
Folks at Asana have found Epoch seamless and valuable, from onboarding to signing up for events and easily discovering what’s available. Asana employees are met by Epoch where they are – through robust calendaring, Slack, Zoom integrations, and more.
The ability to also see who else from your team is attending an event, or finding out who else shares certain interests as you, have really helped create a strong sense of community and belonging for employees.
How Epoch supports companies who invest and care about their employees’ experience
“Epoch is helping experienced designers like myself design employee experiences that meet them where they are,” says Ashley as she recalls feedback from Asana employees.
“We are going to see the flexibility in the workforce powered by great companies who support their employees by meeting them where they are, and Epoch is the foundation that enables them to do that in real time.”