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Dustin Moskovitz got totally burned out as a Facebook cofounder. Here’s how the Asana CEO is planning a return to the office that helps his workers thrive.

Dustin Moskovitz got totally burned out as a Facebook cofounder. Here’s how the Asana CEO is planning a return to the office that helps his workers thrive.

Dustin Moskovitz

Summary List Placement

Dustin Moskovitz knows a thing or two about burnout. He has openly discussed some regrets from the early days he spent building Facebook as an early employee and cofounder.

“2006 was one of the best years for Facebook, and one of the worst years for me as a human,” he wrote in a 2015 Medium post, which included a slightly overweight photo of himself.

Reflecting back, he wishes he slept more, exercised more, and ate better.

After leaving Facebook in 2008, Moskovitz vowed to create a different workplace culture at Asana, the work management platform he cofounded with fellow ex-Facebooker Justin Rosenstein. There’s a tradition of “no meeting Wednesdays” at Asana. Twice a week, he does yoga or goes for a run. If an email comes in on the weekend, he waits until Monday to answer. He wakes up at 10:30 am and goes to bed by 7 pm.

Their mission at Asana was to create a ‘”purpose-built” company by building products that allow employees to work more efficiently across teams. A core part of that mission is also to create a workplace at Asana where employees feel a sense of community and togetherness. That’s why when it comes to Asana’s return-to-office plans, Moskovitz admits he is a bit old-fashioned in wanting employees back in the office.”I’m a little bit of the old guard of managers because I’m emphasizing the value of togetherness,” he tells Insider in an exclusive interview. “There’s just, like, a lot of anxiety and fear in the world,” he added, so companies that are able to go back to the old normal might be “better off in some ways,” because they will be faster at solving some of the inclusion and burnout issues that have bubbled up due to the year of remote work.

Embracing an office-centric culture

Asana SF Office1

In a blog post published Tuesday and shared exclusively with Insider, Asana outlines what it’s calling “office-centric hybrid,” approach. The company makes pains to not officially call it a return to the office. Rather, Asana says its employees are “reuniting” back together, this time in a brand new 265,890-square-foot office in San Francisco’s SOMA district.

“We’ve long approached our company culture like a product, applying the same design principles to our culture that we use to build Asana,” said Moskovitz. “In the spirit of our value, reject false tradeoffs, we believe we’ve found a way to achieve an exceptional office-centric culture while adopting the best elements of hybrid models to ensure that every one of our global team members can work together effortlessly, no matter where they are.”

And while Moskovitz says there’s “no substitute” for in-person communication, he also points out the company has a long history of reflection and iteration when it comes to office culture.

“It’s understanding how your work connects to higher-level goals,” said Moskovitz who is famously low profile and sticks with a uniform of checkered button-ups. When employees do “reunite,” there will be a few changes along with added flexibility to add “hybrid elements to an office-centric culture.”

For example, “No meeting Wednesdays” will be turned into “work from home Wednesdays.” Unlike other companies who are letting people pick which days they want to work from home, Asana wants to “synchronize” the days. That way, when employees do meet in person, they can benefit from “ad-hoc connection” and “co-creation through inclusive common spaces,” instead of talking to a Zoom screen.

“So when people are working from home, we want that to be on the same day, rather than like the sort of day of your choice,” said Moskovitz.

In recent weeks, industry experts have been re-evaluating the efficacy of the hybrid workplace model. Insider’s Aki Ito spoke with Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University who studied remote work before the pandemic hit. His recommendation echos Moskovitz’s thinking: “Set one policy for everyone. Don’t let people choose.”

“Burnout is bad for business”Asana

Still, Moskovitz is worried about the long-term consequence of a year of remote work on Asana employees. “The work got harder when everyone went remote, but life got harder, too,” he said. “It’s been really stressful.”

In January, Asana released a report showing seven in 10 workers experienced burnout in 2020 and companies are losing 60% of their time to “work about work,” or as Moskovitz describes, time wasted on searching for information, sinking into spreadsheets, and holding long meetings.

“The research says burnout is bad and actually bad for business,” said Moskovitz. “So I hope that technology can teach these other industries some received wisdom that there are better and more cost-effective ways for you to run your companies.” To help, Asana has introduced mental health resources and added additional global company holidays so employees can actually unplug on their days off.

Beyond burnout, he’s worried about employees experiencing imposter syndrome, especially those who had to onboard remotely in the past year.

Last week, the company launched a partner program to integrate Asana’s software with over 200 partners ranging from Slack and Zoom to Canva and Adobe. Billy Blau, the head of corporate and business development at Asana, oversaw the launch remotely. He joined Asana in October, one of 500 new employees who were hired during the pandemic.

“Bringing a launch of this magnitude together spanned teams from the US, EMEA and APAC, in addition to coordinating with over 200 leading tech companies and our partners all around the world,” said Blau. “It also involved an immense amount of coordination across our own teams with many of our own team members, like myself, who have never met one another in-person or stepped foot into an Asana office.”

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