I work at Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com and all that jazz, as a Happiness Engineer and a team lead. My team is in charge of creating happiness for our Premium users – Polldaddy, VaultPress, Akismet, and Jetpack. Here’s a glimpse into what my day looked look on the road:
Current location: Oslo, Norway. Why? Why not 🙂 I’ve never been and I’m 25% Norwegian which makes up the most of my genetic makeup believe it or not. Plus, my team has a meetup in Dublin soon and I decided it was a good enough excuse to take my mom on a European adventure.
Alarm goes off – immediately hit snooze. For context, I fell asleep at around 3:30AM due to jetlag + catching up with some friends via text in the US.
Second alarm goes off – actually wake up. I squint at the time and then nearly jump looking around the room. I just arrived in Oslo two days ago and have been on the road for nearly the last year. After living in one place for most of my life, I still can be taken aback by waking up in a new place.
I use an app called Headspace (introduced to me by one of my coworkers) in the mornings and evenings now if I wake up with any sort of anxiety. It’s been incredibly helpful. Today I did a 15 minute session and then sat peacefully in bed for an additional 15 minutes just prepping for the day.
I move from my bed to an actual table which is impressive for me. Usually in the mornings I tend to work from my bed but am trying to break this habit after reading one too many of those articles about improving sleep quality. I start my day catching up with my coworkers and checking the status of our queues. Are any products backed up? Are there any urgent tickets? Because I’m in charge of leading a support team for a variety of products, there are multiple avenues I have to check in with – p2s, channels, ticket queues. Once I’ve caught up there, I scan through and read the backscroll of various slack channels I’m in. From there, I check my email and notifications to see if anyone has asked for feedback. I can see I’ve been tagged in a post about email signatures and quickly send off a reply.
10AM to 11:30AM
I put my head down and begin jamming on tickets. I found one that has left a user particularly upset so I started there to turn things around. I began debugging some with a coworker who is also online and we start to get a solution sorted out. Other than some hacked sites being cleared, the tickets were relatively straightforward. During this time, I had reported an issue in Polldaddy and the developer on that team had already come up with a fix. After some testing, I found it wasn’t working as it should so we went back and forth trying to figure out why. Finally, I had a quick slack convo with another lead about some of the developers from my division doing a week long happiness rotation. We agreed it would be best if I put together a guide of sort for him to rely on since there are certain permissions that need to be in place for the rotation to go smoothly.
11:30AM to 4PM
After getting a bit of work done, I jumped off. Since I’m not normally in an EU timezone, I’m working a spread out schedule to help cover across timezones and catch more of my team. This works to my advantage in any case as it lets me jump off to explore and work only when I have down time/my mom is sleeping/resting. In this case, today involved a boat tour of the Oslo Fjords which was just stunning. It was a beautiful day – clear, blue skies all around. The tour proved to be freezing for us both but it was a blast to be able to do this with her. I can’t think of another job where I could possibly 1) be in Norway randomly for no reason and 2) go on a boat tour in the middle of the day.
4PM to 7:45PM
I came back to the apartment after a quick cup of coffee post tour. Today is a heavy 1on1 day! I love it because it means I can pause in the chaos to catch up with my coworkers. As a lead, this is an important time for me to really hone in on an individual and get to know them. I see it as an honor to have this kind of insight and to help create a vision for a team – I don’t take it lightly.
To start, I chatted with one person who has rotated onto my team. We do rotations within happiness between teams so folks can get a taste for how a different team works. This has been my first ever rotation as a team lead and (fingers crossed) it seems to be going well thus far 🙂 I’ve been so inundated with our products that sometimes it’s hard to remember what it’s like to look at them with fresh eyes.We talked about family, ticket numbers, workflow, etc. This chat lasted about an hour and took place over slack.
During that chat, I started talking with another one of my team members. We caught up about my trip and a variety of random team meetup stuff. It was a quick and productive chat that wrapped up within 15 minutes or so.
From there, I chatted with my newest member of my team for about an hour and half. This was over text as well so mainly async meaning we were both likely working on other things.
At 6PM, I randomly decided to jump on a leadership workshop run by one of the other leads in the company. It was about the difference between a manager and a leader. I forgot that it was dark by the time I got on the call and was made fun of for living in what looked like a horror movie (creepy paintings, dark corners, etc.).
As soon as that ended, I jumped on to talk with one of my coworkers from my previous team, VaultPress. We are on different teams now and, while we initially jumped on the call to talk about how our work could overlap more, we ended up ranting about politics/hipster coffee/books for the first 15 minutes or so. It was wonderful to catch up and the rest of the time followed with a productive convo about how we can provide resources for happiness engineers to dive into the WordPress.org world more. Just thinking about the convo actually makes me really excited about what is to come.
7:45PM – 9:45PM
I hopped off and headed to dinner with my mom. There’s this great street near the airbnb where we are that has one amazing restaurant after another. We walked into this cute little place that had a great, energetic vibe. Over wine and cider, my mom and I talked for 2 hours only pausing to take bites of our delicious dinners. Bellies full, we headed back to the apartment.
9:45PM – 10PM
My dad wanted to zoom with us so we jumped on a call. After 15 minutes or so, I dipped out to jump into work.
10PM – 12AM
I saw a ping about a bug I reported being resolved with Akismet and knew we’d have a potential backlog to address. I was right! I jumped right in and tried to address as many users as possible who wrote in about the issue. I peaked at VaultPress as well to address some restore issues including one with some weird permalink issues that turned out to just be due to the restore not fully completing. Other than some random watercooler chats and some private DMs with leads, the day wrapped up nicely!
Interested in living in Norway (or anywhere really) and working sporadically? You should apply 🙂