A day in my life as an Automattician

I work for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com
We are a fully distributed company, which means that we all work from wherever we are, where want to be. With 280 people as of this day, this represents an extremely interesting experiment about what the workplace of tomorrow could be.
It is my workplace of today though, and I would like to share what one of my days looks like. I can hardly define this as a “typical” day, as one of the great benefits of our organization is flexibility, and days are far from being all identical to each other. For instance, I am writing this on a phone, from a plane, somewhere above Canada, by the end of this year I’ll have spent about 12 weeks traveling, flying about one hundred thousand miles.
My role at Automattic is to lead the Store Division, a group of 35 people organized in three teams, in charge of the WordPress.com store. In a nutshell, we enable our users to make the transition from our free product to our premium plans.
Our team is spread across 4 continents, 12 countries, and 14 time zones.
Back to today’s subject, here’s what happened on a Monday, October 6th if you want to know, the day I took detailed chronological notes with this post in mind.
I love Mondays, by the way, as it’s the day I have many one to one chats with my teammates.
These are my raw notes, check at their bottom for a few more comments:
  • 07.00 Alarm rings, I wake up.
  • 07.00 → 08.00 Coffee, check email, slack, wordpress.com notifications. Reply to some messages, dispatch a few others, post a bug report.
  • 08.00 Shower, breakfast, brush teeth.
  • 08.15 Leaving for school with the girls.
  • 08.25 Drop girls at school, take tram to gym.
  • 08.35 Holmes Place, coffee, chat with Luca, get ready for training.
  • 09.00 → 10.00 Training with Liesa, my coach, first after 3 weeks, hard.
  • 10.00 → 10.45 Training was really hard, needed 30min to feel normal again, then shower.
  • 10.45 Go to Freiraum for meeting with Liz, my other coach, she helps me improve as a team lead.
  • 11.00 → 13.30 Session with Liz at Freiraum.
  • 13.30 → 14.30 Lunch
  • 14.30 → 17.00 Co-work with Luca at Freiraum. Chats with Irwin / Stéphane / Veselin / Erica / Justin / Brie.
  • 17.00 → 18.00 Take the tram home, take a picture at the tram stop, edit it and post it from the tram on this blog. Stop at the grocery shop to buy stuff for dinner.
  • 18.00 → 19.30 Work from home, read P2, comment, chat with Andrea, read Alx’s draft, propose comment.
  • 19.30 → 22.30 Cook and eat dinner, put girls to bed, watch an episode of Homeland with P.
  • 22.30 → 01.30 Work from home, writing P2 post to announce a new squad, chats with Veselin, Jon, on the team channel.
  • 1.30 Brush teeth, go to bed, good night.

IMG_0305

We use mostly two tools to communicate at Automattic, our internal blogs, using a special theme called P2, for asynchronous communication, and Slack for chats, which can be both real time or async.
Email is mostly used with contacts outside the company, or notifications about P2 posts and Slack messages.
The fact that I see two coaches, and they are named Liesa and Liz is pure coincidence.
“The girls” in these notes are my wonderful daughters, Eva & Zoe
“P.” Is my amazing wife who likes her privacy, and who I can’t thank enough for giving us the stability that allows me to get the most out of the flexibility.
Luca is a friend, and fellow Automattician who lives in Vienna like me, we often cowork, he wrote recently a very good post about how we work at Automattic.
All the other people named are my teammates, sorry for the ones I haven’t mentioned here,I love  you all just the same, I just picked one random day.
All days are not that long, I almost never go to bed before midnight, but also not always after 1am
I also don’t work that much after dinner every day, there is really no rule.
I explained in a previous article how I don’t believe in time as a metric to evaluate production, I have been asked recently how can I know if I am doing enough.
The answer is, I strongly believe, to do the best each day, in quality and quantity. Quality being the most important criterion, whenever I feel I am not productive anymore, I prefer to take a break, do something else, then come back to my tasks later.
Doing your best each day should make you comfortable that you are doing what’s expected from you, if it wasn’t the case, you should be able to count on the person you report to to let you know, and help you for being a solution.
Feel free to use the comments below to ask any questions, I’ll be happy to answer most of them. If you are interested in how we work, and you think you’d enjoy this kind of setup, well we are hiring.

Author: Paolo Belcastro

As a true European nomad, and after Italy, France, and Switzerland, Paolo currently lives in Vienna, from where he leads the WordPress.com Spectrum Division for Automattic and the WordCamp Europe 2017 crew. When not thinking about WordPress, he is usually absorbed by his other passion, photography. Paolo lives online at paolo.blog

8 thoughts on “A day in my life as an Automattician”

  1. I’ve only been an Automattician for a couple of months, but the flexibility we have is something I value like no other. While I’m often a human who finds routine an efficient way to be… well, efficient… I also love the ability to be spontaneous and be able to do other things that bring me joy mid week.

    Just the other day I was working and around 13:00 I noticed the weather was absolutely perfect for a photo hike in my local state forest. So I ducked out for a few hours with my camera, spontaneous, and got some amazing captures in the wilderness. I returned later that evening and finished up my work day. It was sensational.

    This kind of freedom is just something you don’t see at many companies, and I think it contributes significantly to our well being.

    Like

  2. “Think hard work light” was my motto many years ago, I like to see it working in practice … One Q if I may?

    Where can we see the Automattic business model, explained?

    Kind Regards …

    Like

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