A Day in the Life

Some members of Automattic decided to take this week to shed a bit of light on what it means to be a remote worker. As part of our efforts to share our experiences, those of us participating will be chronicling our day under the tag #a8cday. Check it out!

Here’s my Monday as a member of the Happiness Hiring team and lead of our Store Happiness team.

I regretfully wake up at 6:15, and promptly reset my alarm for 6:30 instead.

After dragging myself out of bed, I take the dog out for a brief walk. It’s getting cold these days!

By 7am, I grab some tea, breakfast, and watch a short bit of a documentary. A half-hour later, I sit down for some meditation, using a new app I’ve been playing with and write a blog post about said app.

A little before 8am, I sign into Slack and greet the team. I’m still in the habit of saying “Good morning!” even if it’s already 8pm for a few of my coworkers on the other side of the world.

I work my way through any emails in my inbox, reply to some P2 posts, and follow-up on any questions left for me in Slack. I may or may not be working from my bed at this point still. Only my dog knows for sure.

After posting a few announcements, particularly to prep for the week in terms of live chat coverage, hangouts, and general updates, it’s time for me to review some emails from potential applicants I spoke with last week. Most of the day, while I’m working on various projects, I’m also fielding pings and questions from Happiness Engineer trials and teammates. (The trial period is part of the interview process at Automattic, where you do four to six paid weeks working hands-on as a Happiness Engineer before deciding if the role is a good fit.) As I start working through applications, I’m also chatting with some team members one on one and chitchatting in some of our “watercooler” channels.

I remember it’s my friend’s birthday and pause to send an e-card. The perks of the internet.

I grab a snack and let the dog out before sitting down to my weekly chat with my team lead. My next scheduled chat isn’t until 11am, so this gives me plenty of time to go over priorities, questions, and planning, and hopefully make a quick juice for myself. Most of the day, we’re all juggling three or so chats, between working with WordPress.com users, teammates, questions in our group Slack channels, and any private conversations we may be carrying on.

All I need. I try to keep my desk as clear as possible, with just a few notebooks and a To Do list. And no, I don't sit in that chair all day.
All I need. I try to keep my desk as clear as possible, with just a few notebooks and a To Do list. And no, I don’t sit in that chair all day.

By 9am, I also may or may not have finally moved to my desk, which is a small vanity in my bedroom. Though I have a legitimate office space in the attic, the cold mornings don’t make it very inviting. Lately, I’ve been practicing downgrading by switching only to one screen (a 13″ Macbook Pro) and working from my small desk. I don’t need anything else, and it’s easier to move about the house.

At 10am, I unplug my computer and make my way downstairs for some juice. I’ve been juicing a lot since going to a more holistic doctor and over the past few months, I’ve found I have way more energy, even if I’m not into the cleanup process. At the same time, I’m keeping an eye on the team chats so I can chime in whenever if anyone needs any help. After wrapping up my one on one chat, I also dive into a ticket with a billing question that someone handed over to me earlier in the day — time to debug.

At 11am, I head into another private chat with a team member of mine. Over the past few months, I’ve been scheduling monthly chats with team members who’ve been here for more than 6 months, and biweekly chats for newer members. We don’t always have a ton to talk about, but I find it helpful for maintaining open lines of communication between us. It can be scary to reach out to someone, and even if the lead role is still a non-hierarchical position, it can feel like a bigger deal to reach out. Plus, my teammates are cool people, so of course I like talking with them.

As it gets closer to the time for our usual Happiness Hiring hangout, I hop away from the computer for a bit to prepare some lunch. I have the bad habit of eating at my computer, but I just can’t help it.

Whoops, our chat was moved to Tuesday, so I take the time to read some articles online, eat lunch, and start reviewing the work of some folks who are doing their Happiness Engineer trials. While doing so, I start chatting with another coworker checking in about the collaboration between our two teams.

Around 2pm, I sign into our live chat service. My team covers live chat support for users with WordPress.com Business, Enterprise, and VIP. Because we have promised hours, we let each other know the times we’ll be working in live chat by the day before, so we can make sure we have enough coverage. I signed up for 2pm today — I can’t pull myself away from talking with users, so I try to do at least an hour a day. The questions really vary, and some days are busier then others. We work hard to keep the chats spread out over the team as much as possible to make sure everyone gets an immediate and quality response. With all 21 of us, I think we do a pretty amazing job.

As I wrap up my live chat shift, I focus on a few other small tasks that I’ve left for the end of the day — scheduling some chats, shooting off a few emails, and finishing up some more ticket reviews. With Happiness Hiring, we spend a lot of our daily time reading through replies to make sure that that the folks who are trialing with us are getting valuable feedback that puts them on the right path for their trial. While it can be difficult at times, I love watching people grow and expand during the few weeks, which hopefully turn into years, that we spend with them.

Today, I try to sign off around 4pm, but I’m not quite finished for the day so I’ll be hanging around a bit longer. I’ve started teaching yoga at a local gym, meaning I’ve been a bit more punctual on Mondays and Wednesdays. Otherwise, depending on my interview, chat, and meeting schedule, I may hop offline for an hour or two during the day, and hang around a bit later at night. It’s a delicate balance, especially since I have team members all over the world and I try to overlap with all of them throughout the week.

Automattic, meetups 1 through 4
Three years, four meetups. The biggest difference? We can no longer fit indoors.

As I’ve been writing this, it hits me that my anniversary with Automattic is this Friday, October 10th. Yup, this will be my third year at Automattic. It seems surreal, still, and I never imagined myself here, but I’m grateful. All the perks of travel are cool, but what Automattic has really given me is confidence. Here, I’ve done things that I never thought I could do. For my first few months, I was convinced someone made a mistake and would fire me. Three years later, I realize there are no mistakes, my opinion is valuable, and as this company has grown, so has my admiration for my colleagues.

Guess what? We’re hiring.

Author: Erica V.

Always seriously joking and rambunctiously soft-spoken.

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