A day in the life of a Happiness Engineer

A day in the life of a Happiness Engineer

I need to find a new reason for blogging. See, I recently realised that I’m not blogging for the sake of the writing. I started blogging as an escape from studies, a career and a life that was going nowhere. I started blogging because I was unhappy, and being silly and meeting new people online helped me forget that. I started blogging as a distraction.

For that same reason I started volunteering in the WordPress.com forums, but quickly came to love it and, one day late in 2015, decided to make a career out of it. And that’s how I came to be a Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

We call ourselves Happiness Engineers, because our goal is to make users of WordPress.com, Jetpack and WooCommerce happy. We don’t always succeed in that, but we’re always trying and improving.

I work in the team that handles public support for WordPress.com. The bulk of our work is in the support forums (many of you following this blog met me there during my volunteer days), but we also handle support requests that come in via Twitter and Facebook and a few other sources.

My day (at this point) starts around 7:30, after I’ve dropped The Minion off at daycare. While it’s not my primary responsibility, I help out in live chat support for an hour or two most days in the early morning when our staffing tends to be at the lowest. Otherwise I’ll take care of any tweets in our queue before going through my email digests for the various internal blogs, called P2s after the name of the theme.

Then I’ll head into the forums where I spend most of my time, checking Twitter periodically inbetween. I also keep an eye on our messaging app in case anyone working on live chat or email tickets need help checking a site or troubleshooting an issue. As the Automattic Creed says, “I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague.”

Most days, answering forum threads also means filing bug reports for issues our developers need to fix and I update our support docs and internal documentation if and when I spot mistakes or room for improvement. Twitter is a great way to spot if there’s an issue like a stats outage, or a recent code deployment that unexpectedly broke something.

Around 1:30PM I take a two-hour lunch break. This gives me ample time pick up The Minion from daycare and prepare lunch so it’s ready for the missus when she comes home from school.

The rest of the afternoon is again spent in the forums, or otherwise working on domain-specific tickets and docs, as I’m also part of a cross-team guild that’s specifically responsible for that.

I usually call it a day around 5:30PM, but as most of my team are based in the US, one evening a week I have a video chat with them. Most training and company or division “town halls” also take place in the evenings, as well as 1-on-1 chats with my team lead. Most evenings, though (after we get The Minion to bed), I relax with the missus in front of the telly, reading, or organising my photos.

What does this have to do with blogging? As it turns out, engineering happiness has a tendency to backfire. Making our users happy, makes me happy. Though it’s not just the fulfillment that comes with helping people have their own little corner of the web.

It’s the flexible hours (while I try to stick to a schedule for the sake of my own productivity, I can totally take off in the middle of the day if I need to or want to, as long as my work gets done). It’s the fact that I don’t have to miss a single moment of my kid’s life.

It’s knowing I work for an employer and a team lead who trusts and values me, and who cares about me beyond just the value I bring to the company.

It’s working with people who are so very different from me, but who have the exact same goal as me – to make the web a better place. It’s knowing I’m contributing to something much bigger than myself.

It’s that I can work from literally anywhere I want (as long as there’s wifi or a 3G signal).

kokkie-wally-original
Me and my personal assistant, Wally

It’s that I can pick my own job title. Mine is Puppetmattician. Don’t believe me? Look for me on our company About page, and you’ll see.

 The job is not the only reason why I’m happy these days. Becoming a dad is orders of magnitude bigger than any job. So is being able to make a new start for my family in a new home in a few weeks. But having a job that fulfills me, a job where I’m eager to get up and get to work in the morning, ties in nicely with that.

It does mean I need to find a new reason to blog. Either that or actually find some self-discipline…


Anyway, if this sounds like the type of job for you, we’re hiring. And if you want to read about the day of other Happiness Engineers at Automattic, take a look at the a8cday tag in the Reader.

10 thoughts on “A day in the life of a Happiness Engineer

    1. The culture is definitely something unique. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced a work place like this – a place where I feel accepted and at home that at the same time is constantly stretching me and challenging me to expand my boundaries.

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