A Day in the Life of an Automattic Happiness Engineer

Originally posted on October 4, 2014, on Jen’s old WordPress.com blog.

Every morning, my day begins with a bit of a lie.

I wake up and get my three kids ready for daycare, and I throw some respectable “outside” clothes on; usually jeans and a decent shirt. At the very least, it is a shirt that I hadn’t worn to bed the night before.

My hair usually goes up into a messy bun, held back by a pretty headband. I rinse my face with some water, and maybe dab a bit of concealer on the dark circles of sleep deprivation rimming my eyes. If I’m feeling fancy, or maybe need to chat with a teacher that day, I may reach for the lip gloss.

I take my kiddos to school, and I usually encounter a half a dozen or so other parents as they are also dropping off their children. Most are professionals of some sort; the men are usually dressed in sharp suits or khakis with nice polo shirts, and the women are usually perfectly coiffed (certainly not sporting a messy bun of maybe-washed hair), wearing pretty dresses or slacks and designer heels. I can usually smell their lovely perfume as they whisk their little ones into the building. Did I remember to put deodorant on before I walked out the door?

The little lie of my morning is that I actually go right back home after I drop off my kids, and most days I’ll get back into my pajamas before starting my work day. Some days, they’re even clean pajamas.

Today, I’m wearing a pair of gray sweatpants that I’ve had for two decades. That’s twenty years, y’all. They’re probably one of my favorite items of clothing. And I’m doing my job in these sweatpants. I’ll be putting the jeans and respectable shirt back on before picking my kids up at school this evening, but for now, I’m in the most comfortable clothes I own, doing my job.

I work for Automattic as a Happiness Engineer. My job is to make WordPress.com customers happy, and I get to do it from my cozy home office, in any clothes I want to wear. My officemates are my dogs. I can take coffee breaks whenever I want need to.

I currently work as a Guided Transfer Happiness Engineer. We migrate sites from WordPress.com to a self-hosted instance of WordPress, then provide support for them afterward.

Some of my colleagues and I are blogging about what a day is like for a Happiness Engineer, and for me, this represents a re-entry into the blogging world. I started blogging over ten years ago, and my faithfulness to it has waxed and waned over the years. I find it deliciously ironic that I’m now working for Automattic, and I haven’t carved out the time to do any personal blogging. Hopefully with this post, that will change. The last time I blogged, I was seven months pregnant with my son. He’s fourteen months old now.

Monday morning, I dropped my kids off at daycare, and I actually didn’t go home to change back into sweatpants/yoga pants/pajamas. I went to a local breakfast and lunch cafe called First Watch, a place that I frequently go to work when I need a change in scenery or I’m feeling unproductive or distractible at home. Here’s my day, though note that I didn’t record breaks in my schedule. I take frequent fifteen-minute breaks to stretch, give my wrists and hands a break, and most importantly, to reduce the likelihood of an eyestrain headache, which I’m prone to. I’ve also purposefully left out the specifics of my day that involve the kids, because nobody wants to read about how my three year old screamed in my face and cried for fifteen minutes because I made her put on pants for school that morning.

The Day

7:57 Arrive at First Watch. There aren’t many people here. I head to my usual booth in the back of the restaurant. Three servers that I recognize greet me. I’m like Norm on Cheers.

8:03 Greet my team in our Slack channel. The channel is pretty quiet, because half of the team is on the West Coast. My Team Lead is in Budapest, so it is midafternoon for him, and he’s always the first to greet me each day.

8:06 I dive right into a Guided Transfer for a customer. I’d been in touch with her most of last week, answering questions and addressing concerns. She and her partner run a popular cycling site in Australia, and I wanted to get the transfer done for them as quickly as possible. I actually hit a snag with this particular transfer, so I had to ping a developer teammate to take a look at it for me.

8:40 Check-in chat with my Team Lead. Within Automattic, we believe that communication is oxygen. We chat about how I’m doing work-wise, and he asks about my kiddos, because he knows we’ve been sick all week.

9:05 I head to my team’s P2, the internal communication hub for us, and all of the other teams within Automattic. This week, I’m in charge of writing our Daily Post, which outlines where we may need to focus support for the day. Throughout the day, as my teammates come online, they’ll check there and declare where they’re going to focus for the day.

9:30 I work through some low-traffic ticket queues, among them, the queue for questions about Gravatar. This is actually the first time I’d done them, and I didn’t really receive any formal training on managing these tickets. I use our internal documentation and get help from a colleague when I’m stumped. “I will never stop learning.”

9:45 I log into Guided Transfer’s Live Chat portal, to wait for questions from customers that are still within their post-transfer support period.

9:55 I find some internal documentation that needs to be updated, as well as some information that would be beneficial to add to my team’s P2. I do it.

10:00 First Watch has started to get busy with the brunch and early lunch crowd. I hate to be “that person” that takes up a table on a laptop when there is a line of folks waiting to eat, so I pack up my stuff and relocate to Starbucks, which is just a few storefronts down from First Watch. Over the next two hours, I continue working on tickets, run some Guided Transfers, and had a chat with a Terms of Service team member about a user reporting harassment.

12:00 I take a break to chat on the phone with my husband, who calls around noon every day to say hi.

12:35 I’m done with my sweep of low-population ticket queues, so I catch up on emails.

12:48 I head to lunch. I’m craving a burger, so I go to Steak n’ Shake, and it is wonderful. Why is it so delicious if it is bad for you?

2:00 I’m home after lunch, and I take a minute to throw some laundry in the washer. Then, I take some time to catch up on various internal P2s that I follow.

2:40 Troubleshooting some Guided Transfers, chatting with a teammate about possible reasons for some issues I’m having with one.

3:41 I train a teammate on scheduling Guided Transfer purchases.

4:35 Help out a Happiness Engineer on another team that has a customer in Live Chat with a question about Guided Transfer.

4:50 Head out to get my kiddos from daycare.

7:50 Pop back on to Slack to check in one last time for the day.

Does this kind of flexibility, collaboration with awesome and brilliant people, and unique culture appeal to you? Automattic is always hiring world-class folks.

You can read more A Day in the Life posts by my colleagues by checking out the #a8cday Tag in the WordPress.com Reader.