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Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 2016

Theme Team in Barcelona's Park Guell. Photo by Tammie Lister.

Theme Team in Barcelona’s Park Guell. Photo by Tammie Lister.

The day after the U.S. election, I flew to Barcelona for a team meetup. It was a bittersweet trip; on one hand, I was happy to have the distraction of travel, for the opportunity to escape to a foreign city and immerse myself in something that wasn’t U.S. politics.

On the other, I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to go home, curl up under a blanket and hide.

The election results were a frequent topic of conversation throughout the meetup, but we didn’t let it completely overshadow our fun. Besides, the trip itself threw its own interesting obstacles our way; lost (then found) wallets, viruses, a stolen laptop bag, and only one fluent Spanish speaker in the group, which made for some unique exchanges.

It wasn’t an easy trip, but as always, the people and the city made it worthwhile. Until next time, Theam!

Theme Team bringing the drama.

Theme Team bringing the drama. Photo by Tammie Lister.

😃+

Automattic Grand Meetup, Whistler, BC

Where's Waldo? Credit to Donncha for the photo.

Where’s Waldo? Credit to Donncha for the photo.

What an amazing week.

I didn’t take as many photos as in past years; I blame PokĂ©mon and soaking in the experience rather than trying to capture it. But my friends and coworkers took lots of photos and I have plenty of memories to share.

I walked a 5k, I got not just one but two tattoos, I saw coyotes and beautiful mountain scenery, and painted my own version of said scenery. The afterparty included tasty drinks and dancing. There were lots of meetings (so many meetings) and lunches and dinners and discussion, and now my head is full and I want to sleep for a week.

😃+

I did the WWWP5k!

Automattic runs/walks/hops

Where’s Waldo, #wwwp5k edition.

And it begins!

And it begins!

I’ve never been a runner. I will probably never be a runner. I tried Couch to 5K once and got about a week into the program before I decided to save my knees and walk instead.

But I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately (thanks PokĂ©mon!), and my endurance has improved. Each year, Automattic does this world-wide WordPress 5k, and this year they’re donating to a good cause, so I figured what the heck; let’s do it!

Scenic Whistler

Scenic Whistler

I was with a small group of other walkers, and I had my trusty PokĂ©mon to keep my mind occupied when I wasn’t chatting with my walking buddy (who was also playing PokĂ©mon). It was chilly and rainy (45℉/7℃), but the scenery was beautiful and the company made it so much fun.

I may have found myself a new Grand Meetup tradition. 🙂

 

Post-5k Soggy Walkers selfie. Photo by Jen Hooks.

Post-5k Soggy Walkers selfie. Photo by Jen Hooks.

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An “Ooh, shiny” moment

One of the coolest perks of being a four-year Automattician is a new ColorWare laptop with a custom cut WordPress logo on the cover.

I opted for a glossy red-orange-almost-pinkish color called “Spicy” and was not disappointed. This is definitely the most beautiful computer I have ever laid eyes on. Thanks, Automattic!

Now someone needs to explain how I’m supposed to get any work done when all I want to do is pet the shiny cover…

😃+

A Day in the Life of an Automattician: Revised Edition

I’ve written about my life as an Automattician before, but much has changed in the last two years, so I thought I’d update that post!

Now that Tim is a full-time stay-at-home parent, he wrangles the kids in the morning. Gwen goes to a summer pre-K program and Ellie hangs out with us during the day. It’s gotten easier to work with the kids at home now that they’re older and more independent.

My little corner of office paradise.

My little corner of office paradise.

Our office renovation is finally finished (post forthcoming), so I usually grab coffee and breakfast with the family before heading upstairs to my little corner to work. I sign into Slack and say hello to the team, then check email to catch up on P2s, adding anything of note to my day’s to-do list (I use Reminders).

My desk is electric adjustable, so I switch between sitting and standing throughout the day, which keeps me active. When my feet get tired, I sit; when my butt gets tired, I stand. Automattic provided an ergonomic setup when I was hired, and I’m happy I can finally use it!

Several months ago I switched from managing a “squad” within the Theme Team to leading the whole Theme Team, which is currently 12 people. I still review code and make themes, but I also keep up with (or attempt to keep up with) company goals, and make sure the team’s contributions line up. It’s a lot of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic checking in with my team and our division lead.

Midday meetings with my office mate.

Midday meetings with my office mate.

On Mondays and Tuesdays I focus on theme development, code review, and non-administrative tasks as much as possible. Keeping this balance is essential to my happiness; I don’t think I could be fulfilled in a role where I wasn’t making things at least part of the time. Right now, I’m reviewing a couple premium themes and coding a health-and-wellness-focused theme designed by my esteemed colleague and theme-designing machine, Mel, taking her mock-up and turning it into a working theme.

The team’s focus has expanded from theme review and development, so I’m learning a lot of new things from my peers; there’s a strong focus on testing, targeted research and UX/NUX, and filling out our collection of themes to better serve WordPress.com customers. This means we’re more careful about which themes we launch, as we’re trying to fill niches based on data-driven results.

Components

Components is not only functional, it’s *adorable*.

We also have a lot of standardization and customization projects in the works; one such project is ongoing work on Components, our new starter theme generator, which helps us build themes using standardized components, making the development process faster and more streamlined than starting from scratch. It’s like the next generation of Underscores, but more flexible and powerful, with more cool stuff built in.

Wednesday through Friday I check in with my team in one-on-ones, and on Wednesdays we have a video team chat to catch up and discuss priority projects or issues that have come up during the week. We also have a bi-weekly division meeting to do the same with other division team leads. It’s pretty amazing to work in a company of 450+ people and have only a handful of “meetings” each month. We don’t meet for the sake of it, but there’s a distinct communication boost when we’re able to sit down and chat face to face, so we try to take advantage of that.

One huge benefit to having an office is the reinforced lunch break; I have to go downstairs for food, so I’ll usually take an hour in the middle of the day and get lunch, play a card game with Tim and the kids, go for a walk, or tidy up. Staying on my feet means I’m more likely to take short breaks during the day as well.

Typical work attire.

Typical work attire.

The office dress code hasn’t changed; I still wear pajamas 90% of the time, although my Ninja Turtle pants have been retired in favor of leggings or yoga pants. I’ve been working like this long enough that the majority of my wardrobe is t-shirts, either for WordPress/Automattic products or X-Files graphic tees. I faintly remember a time when I had “work clothes” and “home clothes”, but that’s no longer the case. 🙂

Another benefit to having a dedicated workspace means I rarely work in the evenings. My laptop stays on my desk, and at night I’m likely to be found downstairs, playing games with the kids or watching a movie. I still keep an eye on notifications using my phone, but I don’t check work email or P2s. I think I can finally say that I’ve found a solid work/life balance.

Four years in, I’m as happy to be working at Automattic as the day I was hired. As with any job, there are good days and not-so-good days, but even on the not-so-good days, I can’t imagine working anywhere else.

And y’know, we’re hiring!

😃+