Lonely Working Distributed

Recently I wrote about having connections with my distributed team. Part of that was because people have assumed it must be lonely working from home without seeing people. It’s been rare that I’ve ever felt this way much because of my team but also because I have a great network of family and friends I can do things with and have conversations with outside of work.

Listening yesterday to the Distributed podcast episode with Leo Widrich, they talked some about loneliness. His recommendation was basically what I have, strong work relationships and a good support network at home. Overall the episode was really good and has given me more to think about.

Leo talked about dealing with stresses and how they build up over time. We all have ways to deal with it through auto-regulation like my go to: eating. Instead we need to deal with it through self-regulation. Having a partner or group you can talk with can help the process. This is something I need to look into more and do a better job at dealing instead of distracting myself or eating.

Lately I’ve been going through some stresses again and need to work through them, but also be a better partner for those involved in these with me and be sure I’m there to hear them and help them.

Each of these Distributed podcast episodes have been good so far, but this one has been my favourite and given me things to learn more on. I recommend giving it a listen.

Distributed Team

Recently I was telling someone about my job for the first time. We were talking about how we communicate and how there is almost always someone else online working no matter when you are. They said something along the lines of that it must be like talking to some random stranger.

While that’s true some of the time thankfully because Automattic hires great people there is never a worry involved if I have to message someone I’ve never spoken to before. I’ve yet to have someone be unapproachable or find it hard to talk with them. This isn’t something unique to a distributed work environment either. We have close to 1000 employees, even if we were all in the same office building I wouldn’t know everyone.

There are also many people at the company who I know well and have built good relationships with. These are typically the people I work directly with, and especially my team, or those who have been on my team at some point. With them especially it doesn’t feel much different than people I’ve worked with side by side.

Partially this is because we do get to spend time together in person each year, but also because we talk regularly in our day to day work. Each year we have a team specific meet up where we all travel to one location and work together for almost a week. Then each year there is also the company wide meetup where we have time to spend together as a team as well. The next one is coming up very soon and I can’t wait to see my team again.

While we don’t get to do things the same as people who work in a office together, it isn’t that different, we just have to find different ways to do it. We don’t eat cake together in the break room for everyones birthday, but we do regularly celebrate each others milestone moments in life.

Recently a team member became a Grand Parent for the first time and we got to be there with them and see pictures almost instantly. I’m about to become a Grand Parent for the first time myself and we’ll get to go down this path together and support each other. It took me a while to come to terms that I was really going to have a Grand child and she already helped me come around and see the blessing it will be.

As I’ve written about I’m working on getting back into shape and I share my milestones in that with my team as well. They cheer me on, motivate me, and even push me to keep going and do better. One team member when it had been a couple days since I’d ran went on a run themselves and shared it pushing me to go too. We’re doing it together even though we’re far apart.

Learning to play tennis and I’ve had team members who play giving me tips, and are challenging me to matches if we can make it work when we are together soon.

One of the hard times is when a team member is having a hard time. You badly want to be there for them, close to help, and it is harder being far apart. Thankfully it’s easier than ever to arrange deliveries or ship things to people. Even if it is just a distraction from what is going on in their lives.

Even being distributed I consider my team friends and I’m so glad to be able to work with them. Very much looking forward to getting some in person time again soon.

Come Join Me!

Come Join Me!

Here’s a good summary to get you started, but then I’ll throw in my custom pitch below!

Want to be part of making the web a better place? Come work for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce. As a Happiness Engineer, you’ll work full-time from your home (with salary and benefits) to help people with their websites and blogs. It’s helpful to have some familiarity with HTML, CSS, and WordPress. Critical is a genuine desire to help people. Apply by following the directions on our Jobs page: https://automattic.com/work-with-us/happiness-engineer/

If you’ve read my blog before at all you’ll know that I love my job. I really learned about the internet when I started working in a call centre doing tech support for an internet service provider. From there I thought to myself why do these people want to be online? What are they doing on there? That led me to making websites which I eventually ended up doing as a career for a number of years. I loved it because I was helping people get online and promote themselves or their businesses. That led me to WordPress as I tried other options but this software became an awesome way to help them do it.

Now at Automattic I get to work for an amazing company and help people get online and make WordPress itself better. Our mission is to Democratize Publishing which to me is a noble goal. More about what we stand for can also be found in our creed. We are a distributed company, meaning everyone works from where ever they live. It wasn’t until a recent conversation I had with a friend talking about working remotely that I realized what a benefit that really is. I’m able to work with and talk to smart people from all over the world. We are a diverse group and I’m able to interact and learn from all these different perspectives.

If you’re not sold yet, I loved the company, the work, and the people so much that I encouraged the love of my life Jen to apply and go through the intense hiring process to join the company as well. I wouldn’t have done that if I had any doubts about this place.

Like any job there are always challenges and things which could be done better, but most is in our control to have input on fixing or directly working to fix it.

If this sounds like a company you’d enjoy working for and supporting some amazing people who use our products than help me in my personal mission to grow the number of Automatticians we have in Nova Scotia. Take a look at the map, we’re behind of many of the other Provinces, but we can catch up. If you’re interested you can still apply even if you don’t live here 😉

Reach out if you have questions or apply directly https://automattic.com/work-with-us/happiness-engineer/

Distributed Downfall

Working for a distributed company, and in particular Automattic, is amazing. There are so many upsides and I think talked about a lot of them previously. Don’t just take my word though, take a look through some posts by coworkers. For the past little bit however I think I’ve found the downfall of working remotely.

The people I interact with on a daily basis are awesome. Getting to meet my team so shortly after joining the company might have spoiled me, but I think I’m now going through withdraw. I want to be able to be closer to them, work with them, hang out with them.

Lately seeing some others getting together at local events, WordCamps, or conferences has me feeling a little jealous. Don’t get me wrong traveling is hard. It leaves Jen to balance everything by herself and get kids to the places they need to be which can be difficult with her job if these things fall in her regular working hours. If I’m gone we have to rely on other people to help out with the logistics of everything.

I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t have the opportunity to go and get together with others, I’ve never asked or tried to make the arrangements to do it. I know if I found something reasonably close and made the case to go I’d be able to do it no problem. This is me putting the limitation on myself.

The good news is in a few months we will be having the annual Grand Meetup where the whole company gets together. I’ll have a full week to meet and be with everyone! If you can’t tell I’m very much looking forward to it.