Introducing Vacation Indicator

Kasey Fleisher Hickey, Cliff Chang, Eric Pelz, Marcos Medina, and Jackie Bavaro

Have you ever left for vacation and felt stressed out by all the communications you knew would build up in your absence? Been in a situation when a teammate wasn’t responding to comments or tasks and you didn’t realize they were away? Planning time away from the office and keeping your teammates informed just got easier, with Vacation Indicator. We first prototyped this feature at a recent hackathon and ‘polished’ it up during our latest Polish Week.

Vacations just got better for you and your team

Now, you can set an away status in Asana, indicating when you’re not around. You can plan your vacation in advance by setting the first day you’ll be away, and indicate the day you’ll be back. Your return date will appear next to your name every time someone @ mentions you, assigns you a task, or reads a comment by you. You can also choose to not specify a return date: your status will simply say ‘away.’

Once you’ve set your Vacation Indicator, your profile photo will appear dimmed and have a light orange outline. Your away status will also appear whenever anyone hovers over your profile picture. At a glance, teammates will be able to see your vacation status when looking at conversation threads with you, so no one has to wonder why you’re not responding, and will immediately know when you’ll return. Vacation Indicator To enable your Vacation Indicator, simply go into your Account Settings and check the ‘Show me as away’ box under your profile picture. Select the dates you’ll be away, then hit ‘Update Profile.’

We hope you’re going somewhere fun.

  1. avatarNathan J. Brauer

    Excellent! How does a manager mark their team member as away? For instance, one on my team is away right now and doesn’t know about this yet, or in the case that a team member forgets.

    1. avatarValen Volk

      You can manage your employee by calling or texting them (Who cares what island they are on), sharing this article with them and saying “Hey, sign-in to asana and activate your vacation indicator, because our remote employees are assigning tasks to you” mmm delegation..

      1. avatarLuis Gonzaga

        If your employee is on vacation you should only contact him/her if someone dies if you don’t. Otherwise, it can wait.

        1. avatarAnne-France Goldwater

          I think Valen was being funny. That said, Luis, you are absolutely right. I think I might be the one to die if I annoyed an employee on vacation just to tell him to add the mention on Asana that he’s on vacation! I set up a project I call “Team Announcements” and use it to advise whoever needs to know that the employee in question is on vacation, sick, away for a project, etc.

          1. avatarValen Volk

            Yea I was being a imp, I think its best to wait, but I do like this idea of a “Team Announcements” project for global communication, and I will implement it. Thanks for the tip Anne!

    1. avatarKendra @ HeyKendra.com

      I love this “out to lunch” idea! I would love to have that feature as well… simply because when you work remotely, sometimes you’re hoping on and off line and it would be great for me to show that to my boss when I am away!

      1. avatarClane

        This is a great idea. Providing status options right from the left menu area, like when you select your picture it provides you a few common options (like the Lunch idea from Paul) and also let’s you type what you are doing for those times when the common status options don’t apply. Lastly, you can set an expiration time for that status. I find that most people using Skype who update their status to reflect what they are up to, forget to go back in and delete/change it….until the next time they go for lunch, or whatever the case was.

    2. avatarPetrov

      This away(vacation) feature should be more generic/optional. Many users are ‘away’ based on national holidays, medical issues or other. Managers should have an acces to team statuses, so they can update it as should it be. :)

  2. avatarBevan

    Lots of feature suggestions here:
    1: add timeslots to asana
    2: allow top-down management
    3: have several status messages available, or a free text field

    asana is a good product – lets work to make it unbeatable.

    1. avatarKendra @ HeyKendra.com

      Ohhhh…. status message would be AWESOME!!! Like, don’t bother me, I’m actually getting some hardwork work done right now ;)

    1. avatarsometime not well linked server in china!

      Asana is very good. But sometime not well linked server in china in iphone ipad.
      I never linked on ometime not well linked andriod phone.

  3. avatarMark

    Useful feature!

    It would be really nice if I could set it per workspace as opposed to on all workspaces at once. Some vacations are me leaving one team to work with another team for a month or two.

  4. avatarNatalie

    Wonderful! Just what we needed.
    Now the only thing missing is a kind poll function to find the date where most of my team has time for at meeting. That would be SO awesome :)

  5. avatarRashmirathi Tiwari

    Great feature team.
    Its very helpful.
    Can we have multiple vacations indicators (like a user want to set advance vacation for tuesday and friday).

  6. avatarFrank

    Perhaps call it an “Out of Office” indicator… for use cases when you’re traveling for business, training, or conference (more than just for a vacation).

  7. avatarManuel

    “Out of Office”, workspace only, set it for other people, info-text – these are all interesting additions. I see there is always the struggle to keep it as simple as possible. And only include features that fit into the longer roadmap. So it makes sense like it is. But I am very glad to see any development, that makes me able to manage more relationships with people in asana, than just only tasks ; )

  8. avatarMike Wall

    This is useful, but I wish it appeared on the calendar. I travel frequently for work and wish I could note that on Asana so people (including me) aren’t assigning me tasks when I’m not in the office. There should be a way to block off time on the calendar.

    1. avatarCatharine

      Agree that adding to Project Calendar would be a great enhancement, allowing planners to see in advance who was going to be on vacation.

  9. avatarKristin

    It would be REALLY helpful if you could set it for future PTO so that the project manager could see in advance when a team member was going to be out of the office and plan accordingly.

  10. avatarBrett

    This feature would be beneficial on a daily basis for availability in general. Our team uses Asana to self delegate in our department and sometimes certain team members have a full plate. It’d be great for our managers to be able to set certain personnel to unavailable for delegation.

  11. avatarSeth Saavedra

    Great job ASANA – I’ve often thought Outlook would be so much better w/ a similar feature. But now ASANA has it – so one less reason to use Outlook.

  12. avatarBrandon

    How timely! I’m leaving for vacation this weekend! When I saw this feature announced I thought perhaps you had access to my calendar and saw my vacation plans. :)

  13. avatarKevin

    Nice feature, but Away message seems to behave oddly when using the Last Day field.

    Example: If I want to indicate I am off next Monday, I am putting 9/1/2014 in both date fields and the message says: “Away until Monday”

    I want to indicate I return on Tuesday. I can put 9/2/2014 in the Last day field so it says “Away until Tuesday” but when, exactly, does that away message fall off? I don’t want it to show that message on 9/2 when I am actually at work.

    1. avatarEric Pelz Asana Team Member

      Thanks for the feedback! Your away message won’t be enabled until the start of your vacation, so if you put 9/1/2014 on both date fields, you won’t display any away message until the day-of 9/1/2014. Your away message will then say “Away until Today”.

      If you are returning on Tuesday, then the “last day” of your vacation is on 9/1/2014. With this enabled, the away message will be turned off when you return on Tuesday.

      Hope that helps! :)

      1. avatarasanalover

        i don’t need asana to have time slots or to provide an out to lunch as i use it with my freelance clients and they do not need this info on me. I like setting my own schedule and getting back to them when i need to. Just wanted you to hear another opinion. I also do not need a due time so I wouldn’t want to set that ever. But I could see how it could be useful to someone – I just wouldn’t want it to be automated. Or a force-fill feature.
        I love asana now. And I’m sure I will continue for a long time. :)

  14. avatarBrittany

    This is great and I love the simplicity of it. Many people may ask for the granular statuses, etc. but I think this simplicity is perfect. Keep it up Asana!

  15. avatarStéphane

    Interesting feature and agreed with many comments above about time slots, message status and top-down management.

    Keep up the good work guys, Asana is an amazing product!

  16. avatarGraham

    How about a wee counter for each task? When you open a task to start working on it, there is a start and stop button to record hrs, mins, seconds spent on a specific task. Click to start and end time spent.

    And then be able to report on same, would be able to produce management reports showing where time spent, which tasks, help explain how those simple things took 3 hours, not the allocated 5 minutes, etc. And also when you add (sub)tasks, you can retro type in time e.g. rang X about design changes, 15 minutes.

    Also help justifying billing etc.

    Awesome product.

  17. avatarJeff F

    Nice feature that can help reduce clogged or delayed work, and help to shield employees when they do take time off. For a larger enterprise using Asana, letting an admin set this for people is important. Even better would be a simple way we could automate this with an API (we flag this in our email and call tracking system already).

  18. avatarAxell S

    I’m really wondering why haven’t you give the “timeslots” or the ability to set an hour with the due date feature.
    Is it too complicated to implement? do you think due times are not important or an impediment to your ideal workflow?
    It’s an honest question, I understand at the time the development of the mobile app had priority, you did a great work with that, but I think the due time is more important to businesses that setting vacation time.

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  20. avatarMiha

    This is a good feature, but as an Android user I (and many of us using Android phones) are looking forward to getting the native Android app, as good as the iPhone one is. Can someone from Asana say when can we expect it (weeks? month?) please :)

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