A typical day at work

This post is part of a series describing what Automatticians do on a daily basis. You can read more posts like this by following the tag #a8cday on WordPress.com and Twitter.

Back in October 2014, I wrote a post describing a typical day at work. Since then, my job has changed quite a bit, so I’m writing an updated version.

6:05ish: I hear the boys getting up and getting in the shower. Yes, they are now taking showers by themselves in the morning. Hallelujah! I doubt this will last very long, but I’m enjoying having clean children and not having to nag them to bathe. I lie in bed and play Two Dots and catch up on my email until the bathroom is free.

7:00: Everyone troops downstairs. If I’m driving them to school that day, I’ve showered, but usually I don’t. So I’m still in pajamas. I make my coffee, they make their lunches, put their shoes on, and get their stuff together. I pour cereal into bags for them to take with them.

7:30ish: The boys get picked up and I grab some breakfast and go upstairs to my office.

The biggest difference between my job in 2014 and now is that instead of primarily providing support to WordPress.com customers, I now hire more Happiness Engineers to provide support to our customers. And now WooCommerce is part of the Automattic family, so we’re hiring HEs to support WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce.

So I sit at my desk and the first thing I do is go through my email. When I did support work, email wasn’t a big part of my work at all. But in Hiring I use it a lot more. We get applications via email, we send out interview requests, tests, and of course rejections via email as well. We use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to send out most of the emails, but the replies come in to our normal mailbox.

img_7731It would probably help to explain the hiring process a bit here.

First, we get emails from applicants, which we import into our ATS. The various members of the team review each application twice. The rejections get emailed back and the ones that pass the reviews get a small project.

If the project is done well, we schedule a first interview, which is done via Slack. If the interview goes well, we send another small assignment, which may or may not lead to a second interview. Assuming the second interview goes well, we may offer a trial.

The trial lasts from 3-6 weeks and is paid. (My trial paid for work on our house. Yay trial!) Usually we follow someone through from the first interview through the trial, but occasionally we’ll pass them along to someone else on the hiring team to run the trial. Right now, I’m running four trials, and it’s likely I’ll have a few more starting up over the next few weeks.

So I spend a good part of the morning checking on my trials. How much work did they get done the day before? (They either answer support tickets or do live chat with customers.) How was their feedback from users? How are their answers? Their tone? Are they interacting with other Happiness Engineers?

Every trial also has a buddy, so I may have some feedback from the buddy or other HEs. All of this gets fed into our ATS so we can review it easily.

Once I’ve looked through the trials, we may have applications that need reviewing. I may have gotten some projects back so I’ll need to review those as well. If they go well, I’ll send out interview requests.

Another big part of my job is organizing new hire Support Rotations.

Every new Automattician who doesn’t work in Happiness starts off their tenure with three weeks in support. So they are trained how to use our tools and how we provide support for two days alongside HE trials and then are let loose. So I keep track of who is starting and when, and get their training set up and a buddy for their rotation, and all that good stuff.

Oh, and training. How could I forget training? I also organize Happiness training. Nearly every week, we have either trials or support rotations starting at Automattic. And since we all work remotely, we can’t ask someone in Australia to train at the same time as someone in Europe and someone in the US. So we have a few different trainings. I schedule Happiness Engineers to do those training sessions, and make sure everyone gets trained on time.

So this all takes up most of my day. But if I get through all of that, I try to spend some time doing support tickets or live chat. It’s incredibly important that I not only help out the team, but also that I always know what’s going on in support. How can I evaluate a trial’s live chats if I don’t know how accurate their answers are? If I don’t know how to use our tools (which are ever-evolving?)

Right now my coworker Deborah and I are getting ready for a recruiting trip to Australia and New Zealand so I’m also helping to get our accommodations sorted out, swag sent to the hotels, and events set up. We’ll be speaking at WordCamp Auckland so we need to get together to work on our talk as well.

So that’s my work stuff. I might also go work out at Orange Theory at some point during the day.

3:15: I log off and go pick up the kids from school. If traffic isn’t terrible I’m home around 4:30 and I log back on to finish up anything I hadn’t done before.

5:30: Log off. Get dinner started. Nag boys to do homework.

8:30ish: Get boys in bed. Read a book.

10:30: zzzz

A day in the life as a Happiness Engineer

Waiting for carpool

This post is part of a series describing what Automatticians do on a daily basis. You can read more posts like this by following the tag #a8cday on WordPress.com and Twitter.

Because we all work remotely, there’s no one typical “day in the life” for an Automattician. But here’s what my day as a Happiness Engineer might look like:

6:07 am: My alarm goes off, playing an old INXS song. What can I say, it makes me feel younger. Like the 13-year-old me who was planning to marry Michael Hutchence.

6:08 am: I hear the boys’ alarm goes off. Theirs plays “Everything is Awesome.” If I woke up to that, I’d hate the song within a week, but it actually seems to make them happy in the mornings, miracle of miracles.

6:15 am: I really get out of bed, for real this time. I join the boys in the living room, where they’re all huddled together on the sofa. Not because they can’t stand to be apart, but because whoever is sitting in the middle is holding the iPad while they watch a Minecraft video on YouTube.

6:45 am: Make my coffee, make sure the boys’ stuff is in their backpacks, get their breakfast ready. (Notice I didn’t say “cook their breakfast.” Making their breakfast entails putting cereal into bags and pouring a cup of milk that they’re supposed to share, but hardly ever touch.) Yell upstairs to the boys to finish getting dressed, brush teeth, put the freaking iPad down, come downstairs, etc.

7:15 am: Carpool arrives! The boys are off to school. Peace and quiet for the next several hours, ahhh…

7:30 am: Another cup of coffee, maybe? Turn on the dishwasher, maybe throw on some laundry.

7:45 am: Take coffee upstairs to my office (which is also the guest room and the boys’ playroom.) Log on to my computer. Check out any messages in Slack that came in overnight. Check email. Open the list of a dozen or so P2s that I like to be caught up on. Some are directly related to work (my team’s P2, for instance) and some are watercooler. (Fitness, kids, random funny stuff, etc.)

My office. Most days.

8:15 am: Log on to Live Chat, which is what I do every day. Chat with users. Chat with my coworkers on Slack. If things are slow, write a blog post, write a P2 post, check out any updates to P2s that I follow. I have a Varidesk so I can work standing or sitting. It’s good to break things up a bit. Still contemplating the treadmill for under the desk. Maybe one day.

Noon: Lunchtime! Log off the live chat system, go downstairs, eat some lunch. Take a few minutes away from the computer. In theory. That would be ideal, but I usually spend lunchtime catching up on Facebook, email, etc. Erm, take a shower if I haven’t already.

12:30 pm-ish: Log back on to live chat. Chat, chat, chat.

2:15 pm: Today’s my day to pick up the carpool of kids from school, but I like to get in some exercise first, so I log off and head to the gym (yes, I took a shower a few hours ago. I’m weird like that, okay?) and then across town to school to pick up a vanload of kids.

4:30 pm: Back home. Husband greeted. Kids given snacks and a very strong suggestion to get their homework done. I log back on for a while, juggling clones and chats.

5:30 pm or so: Log off for the day. Spend time with my family. Make dinner, oversee the homework that wasn’t done earlier, put the boys to bed, all that fun stuff.

10:15 pm: Nighty-night time for me.

So that’s a pretty typical day. I may not have worked a solid eight hours in a row, but there are the days when I don’t have to pick up the kids, so I may work straight from 8:00 to 5:30. I may take an hour in the middle for a bike ride instead of going to the gym. If it’s one of the days I volunteer in the school cafeteria, I may work at Starbucks in the afternoon until it’s time to pick up the kids. There are also days when I train trial Happiness Engineers, and those days obviously look very different. I love the flexibility my job affords me to do these things. I also love talking to our users all day long, and doing everything in my power to make them happy.

If you like the look of my day, we’re hiring! (Don’t worry, the carpools are optional.)