What is Workload without knowing your team's OOO (Out of Office) time? 🕛

Resource Management is such a huge challenge within my company - generally a difficult thing to conquer in any line of work, really. You need people to close deals, people to revenue the work, people to train the people, and sadly… even people to (what often seems like) babysit people. It is difficult to know who is available when or who is burdened doing what… if you don’t have a holistic capture of the work.

As my team continues to dig deeper into how we capture and manage our Workload through Asana, it is important to make sure we also consider the time when we are scheduled NOT to work. I can’t effectively set a capacity on the effort in Workload unless I introduce the volatility of the time away from work.

With this tip, I’ll simply share a structure to manage Holidays and Personal Time Off (PTO) among a team using Asana Business. This can be done in just a few simple steps:

  1. Create a Project Template that includes all the upcoming Holidays and placeholders for PTO that users can forecast themselves
    • Include the common Custom Field that defines your Workload effort
    • Add additional custom fields to delineate the data over time or denote the status of PTO
    • You might also consider including references like job codes that users should charge time to - if that is often something that gets overlooked or mismanaged
    • Most importantly, be sure to have all tasks multi-homed to a master project that pulls in ALL of the tasks created from this template so there is a single project that could be added to any other Portfolio
  2. Create the aforementioned Master Project where all tasks from the Project Template can be multi-homed
  3. Add a Rule to the Project Template that multi-homes any new tasks to the Master Project
    • This will be key once users start to define their PTO and look to create/delete tasks within their own copy of the template.
    • Please note: Even though there is a rule within the Project Template that multi-homes new tasks to the Master Project, this rule doesn’t run when templates are used (duplicated). Therefore, you’ll need to make sure all tasks within the Project Template are indeed multi-homed to the Master Project. Unfortunately, this will show unassigned tasks for those with pre-selected dates.
  4. Create a Portfolio with either the Master Project or each of the individual Projects customized by team members
    • If setup correctly, the end result is the same - as the Master Project is simply a collection of the rest

That’s essentially it. Now the team can manage their time away from a central place and see how this time impacts the actual work they have allocated or planned. Below is a screenshot example of what a template could look like.

BONUS: For those interested in seeing the data in greater detail, there are tricks to leveraging the Google Sheet integration so you can do things like:

  • Manage the use of individual’s PTO bank (time remaining, time overbooked, time not forecasted, etc)
  • Manage the scheduling of floating holidays (where applicable)
  • Charting to track M2M utilization
  • Look-ahead charts (below) to see who is IN/OUT when over a stretch of time


You are not using portfolio or workload, just using the google sheet integration at the portfolio level?
I would reconsider if I were you the colors you use for the custom fields. Why would 2021 be red? Why have a flashy color for « n/a »?

I am using Portfolio specifically for Workload. The primary intent of this post is to show how you can easily setup a project template that provides the structure to bring this type of non-work data into view. I just didn’t include a screenshot of the Workload but can if that is helpful.

The Google Sheet integration is just icing on the cake. I only mentioned it assuming there might be other ways users might want to see data that isn’t offered within Asana today.

I honestly didn’t give much thought to the color-coding of the drop downs in this example. Green and red just happen to be the default when using that custom field type and I just replaced the text with 2020 and 2021. I’d likely swap them if not remove the colors all together. “N/A” likely shouldn’t have a color in this example. It’s pre-defined and of no value for the the OOO Type = Holiday.

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Very good point indeed.

The problem is that Asana puts colors by default, when in my opinion it should not!

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I have been wondering how to properly see when people are OOO or on PTO in Asana workload for a while. This seems like it would work but sounds kind of bulky. Does the idea mean that each team member has their own private asana project, created from the template, and they must add tasks to represent when they are taking time off? And the goal of the master project is to house all of these tasks but keep them visible only to management?

I guess, why not just have the one master project, and allow everyone to add tasks for their own PTO into it?

I would love some kind of integration with the Google Calendar. Currently at our workplace, everyone puts PTO days on their Google Calendar, it would be great if they only had to put it in that one place and Asana picked it up somehow. Asana has the “show me as away” setting on your profile, but that doesn’t really do enough for this.

Thanks for your feedback @Daniel_Bertrand1. Sorry you feel this approach is bulky. Perhaps it is the long-winded nature of my post. :wink: We’ve been using this structure for a bit and am quite pleased with the flexibility and ease at which the layout provides. I’ve answered several of your questions below and hopefully provided some clarity that makes this tip seem more valuable. Thanks again.

Yes, the template provides the structure but individuals define when and for how long they would take off.

The main goal of the master project is to have a single source to add to a Portfolio Workload instead of map them all individually. In the event that you have Portfolios where you are only wanting to see a portion of the individuals (think national vs regional portfolios) then you could map those select individual projects. Who sees this data at a Portfolio or project level could be customized to create the level of visibility preferred. This isn’t necessarily a goal of the master project.

See previous response around the potential need to only see portions of the whole. Also, as individuals are onboarded, having a template for just a single individual makes it easy to give them what they need and map the additional to the whole (master project).

More robust integrations with calendars who certainly lighten the effort to represent when someone is OOO within Asana.

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Hi everyone!

This is great to read!

@Jerod_Hillard if you don’t mind, I would be interested at looking at a screenshot of your workload. I have been trying to figure out a way to incorporate my team’s OOO in Asana for a while now.

Many thanks!

@Alizée_Brien sorry for the delayed response. Here is a screenshot of a portion of my team where the projects added to the Portfolio are all those where they have billable work, in addition to their OOO projects.

Hi, thanks fo this tip. In our company we still have a problem that is: If we have a task with a start date before a holiday period and a due date after that, how can we have a right distribution of the Workload? I hope to be clear in the explanation of our issue.

I understand your dilemma @Alessandro_De_Pieri. We typically will shift work around holidays or break the work up into phases on either side of the holidays.

You can also extend the start or due date of the task, where permissible, to take into account the number of holidays that are contained within the “window of work”. This approach isn’t ideal as it doesn’t properly balance the workload for each day. Unfortunately there isn’t a way to distinguish exceptions (holidays) within a window or work that would otherwise not apply the effort to that day.