July will mark the start of my fourth year with Automattic, a milestone I’ve never before crossed in my professional career1. Generally, after about two years, my interest has waned and I’m better off finding a new employer. It’s different with Automattic.
I cherished the opportunity to lead a team for so long, but I just spent an entire week writing code! It’s nice to focus on that again.
Working at Automattic is randomly checking something at 6:30 on a Saturday morning and discovering three teammates–two European and one American–online and working as well. It’s not that we’re understaffed or overworked, we just set our own schedules.
I contribute to the development of web publishing software. I don’t generally use it to publish things myself.
Five years ago, I was unemployed and bored, and somehow happened upon the idea of a WordCamp. As luck would have it, there were plans underway for one in Boston, and help was needed. With an abundance is free time, I gladly volunteered–a decision that led to a job and my current career.
The last five years have been a wild and often-surreal experience of travel, growth, and so much WordPress. Boston has been my base through this time, and New England where I’ve always called home, but soon that changes.
For more than two years now, I’ve been a nomad in a long-distance relationship, but I’ll soon drop both descriptors. Chris and I are moving to Los Angeles this summer.
I love traveling and the nomadic lifestyle, but I’m ready to settle down with my boyfriend and move on with our life together.
I experienced two notable milestones last week. It’s been a year since I joined Automattic, and I’ve been without a permanent home for the same duration. During this year, I’ve visited a new country, met innumerable incredible people from both Automattic and the WordPress community, attended fourteen (14!) WordCamps and spoken at seven (7!), and taken over as lead of Team Custom. I’ve flown in excess of 100,000 miles and spent at least seven months away from my Boston-area home base.
What a great experience I’ve had and a wild year it’s been! I have no desire or intent to settle down any time soon, and going forward, will be posting more about my nomadic experience at Get Transient along with Siobhan McKeown, Hanni Ross, and guests.
I spend a lot of time on the road–ten trips covering 36,952 miles and 26 cities in 2013 so far–and my nomadic lifestyle often comes up in the context of “where are you from” inquiries. A frequent question is how I deal with being away for so long, always on the go, particularly given the unsettled nature that comes with living out of a suitcase. Having lived like this since July 2012, I’ve refined my approach to travel such that I’m not bothered by constantly relocating.
Automattic received a good deal of press coverage yesterday. Exciting to see it all!
- Step Into the Office-Less Company: How One Tech Firm Manages 123 At-Home Employees Scattered Across 26 Countries and 94 Cities, The Wall Street Journal
- With 60 Million Websites, WordPress Rules The Web. So Where’s The Money?, Forbes
- Why Some Company Offices Are Virtual, Bloomberg Businessweek
Matt also posted his thoughts on the future of work in response to one aspect of the Forbes article.
As a new Automattic employee (an Automattician), it’s exciting to see this much coverage of my new employer. Without a doubt, one of the (many) benefits that drew me to my new position was the distributed nature of our business. Since starting with Automattic, I’ve worked from Somerville, MA; San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; and Derry, NH. Having the flexibility to be this geographically untethered is so important to me right now, and there are few other companies I could be working for that would afford me this freedom.
Automattic is a distributed company, meaning we have no offices per se, and therefore no set office hours. My team is spread across four time zones, and while we schedule team chats each week, I otherwise don’t generally have set time commitments. This means that I can wake up when I am so inclined to do so, and work as late as I’d like. In other words, I set my own hours based on my needs, work commitments, and non-work obligations.
This flexibility is one of the many characteristics of working at Automattic that strongly attracted me to a position with the company. It’s also one of the most challenging “benefits” to adapt to. As I Tweeted earlier (though without the word mentality that belonged at the end):
One of my biggest challenges since starting at @automattic is getting out of the "It's X o'clock and I've only done Y so far today."
— Erick Hitter (@ethitter) September 4, 2012
I have no doubt that I’ll eventually adapt to this aspect of my new job, but right now, shedding the sense that I haven’t accomplished enough in my day simply based on the current time of day is proving rather difficult.