A Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer

This week, many of us at Automattic are documenting our day to give everyone an idea of what it’s like to work for an entirely distributed company. If you’re interested in reading more you can follow the tag #a8cday at WordPress.com and on Twitter. Here’s my day as a Happiness Engineer.

Whenever I tell someone I’m a Happiness Engineer, I normally get a blank stare followed by one of two reactions:

  1. The person pretends like they know what that means and no further questions are asked.
  2. A short chuckle ensues with the follow-up question, “So, what does that mean?”

I definitely understand. Before working at Automattic, I had no real idea what a Happiness Engineer might do.

So, what does a Happiness Engineer actually do on a daily basis? The short answer: we do whatever it takes to make the user experience as great as possible at WordPress.com. For those that want more, here’s my complete schedule from October 6th, 2014 to give you an idea of what it’s like to work for a company that is 100% distributed.

If this sounds like how you want your day to look, we’re hiring. I’d love to work alongside of you!

6:15AM – Despite theoretically being able to get up whenever, my internal clock is set to get up pretty early in the morning. Since Charlotte is already off to work and Tucker, our dog, enjoys post-breakfast naps, I enjoy the peace and quiet in the early mornings. I spend most mornings writing in some fashion. This particular morning, I grab a cup of coffee and head over to my laptop. My time is focused on doing some edits on a freelancing piece for DailyBurn and working on a book review blog post.

7:15AM – I peruse our internal blogs, referred to as a P2s, to see what’s going on in the company for that particular day. The Theme team is doing their yearly week devoted to customer support this week so I want to make sure they’re all set and ready to go.

7:45AM – Breakfast time! While I chug my second cup of coffee, I whip up an egg scramble and get dressed.

8:15AM – I head to the dog park with a friend of mine. We have a total of three dogs in tow. Needless to say, there’s a lot of energy in the car. One thing I’ve learned through (almost) a year of working at Automattic: Working at home is much easier when the dog is tired.

Lion King pose!

Lion King pose!

9:30AM – With Tucker snoozing in the corner, I log on for my first extended work period of the day. To start, I do a quick run through the P2s just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Then, I set a timer for 50 minutes. I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to set work periods. Normally, I work for 50 minutes straight followed by a 10 minute break.

Over the course of the morning, I complete the following:

  • Clear out my FRs. When someone submits a question to support staff, we reply back to the individual. In the event that we can’t solve the issue in the first reply, the user normally replies. This creates an “FR” or “follow-up received” basically meaning a user has gotten back to us with more information.
  • Check in on our Twitter account. A few of us are handling some support requests that come in over Twitter.
  • Dig into some FRs of my teammates. We have some people that are out today so we don’t want their users to have to wait for a reply.
  • Answer a handful of new tickets related to an image issue, theme question, upgrade renewal, and a domain not working correctly.
  • Reach out to a few other team leads about scheduling their Support Week (Every team at Automattic works in support for one week out of the year).
  • Chat with my teammates in Slack about their weekend.

12:30PM – I close my laptop and head to the gym for a workout. I really enjoying breaking the day up into two three-hour blocks.

1:30PM – I meet up with six of my other coworkers for some lunch in downtown Denver at a place called Moontower Tacos where I proceed to eat a taco piled high with a waffle, fried chicken, and jalapeños. Deliciousness!

2:30PM – I head to a coffee shop that happens to be right around the corner from the taco joint called Steam Espresso Bar. While I do love the option of working at home, I’ve found that it’s difficult for me to work from one spot all day. So, in the afternoons, I normally drive up to Steam to work for a few hours.

This is from home, but here's what my mobile setup looks like: Roost stand, MacBook Air, Logitech wireless keyboard, and Magic mouse.

Here’s what my mobile setup looks like: Roost stand, MacBook Air, Logitech wireless keyboard, and Magic mouse.

3:00PM – With a latte in hand, I’m ready to go for the afternoon. I kick up the timer for another 50 minutes. Within the next three hours, here’s what I get through:

  • More tickets! These questions covered quite the variety of topics including themes, upgrade renewals/cancellations, issues moving to a self-hosted site, plugin questions, and a few more image issues.
  • I report two theme bugs on Harmonic, a gorgeous new theme that we released (for free might I add).
  • I check up on some theme issues I had reported a week ago and report the findings back to the users that originally reported the issues.
  • Help out a trial in Slack to answer a domain-related question.
  • Ping our Terms of Service squad to discuss a COPPA-related issue.
  • Read through a guide created by my colleague Bryan on how he uses Things, a productivity app. I’ve found that I only use a small percentage of the features so it’s interesting to see how he uses them.
  • Complete one final scan through P2s to make sure I didn’t miss anything monumental. I’m reminded that I should’ve been reading Setting the Table for an internal book club-ish discussion. Time to order it I guess!

6:00PM – My wife should be getting home soon so I head back as well so we can get started on dinner.

6:30PM – Traditional stuff follows: Walked the dog in an effort to get my 10,000 steps in, cooked and ate dinner, folded some laundry, and chatted with Charlotte about her day.

8:00PM – Charlotte is studying (she’s in the police academy) so I log-on to post the book review that I started this morning. I also get caught-up in reading through the initial #a8cday posts. Even though I work with these people every day, it’s still fascinating to see a rundown of how everyone handles their day-to-day activities.

9:15PM – After an episode of Top Chef from Hulu, we’re in bed. I try to read some of Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, which I started on a recent trip, but I promptly fall asleep.

That’s my day in a nutshell! Most days are pretty similar to that schedule minus the lunch with coworkers. Again, if that looks like your kind of day, why not apply?

GIF credit: Our annual company retreat (this one was in Park City, Utah)

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