A day in the life of a Happiness Engineer: word counts

Originally published on Butterfly Mind, October 2014.

Word Output of Happiness Engineer Andrea Badgley on October 8, 2014

Several friends have asked, “How’s your writing going?” now that I’ve got a full-time job. While I haven’t been writing as much for my blogs as I was when I was a stay-at-home-mom, I am excited that my job as a Happiness Engineer involves writing All. Day. Long.

Even more thrilling, especially for a writer working on craft, the types of writing I do throughout the day are varied and hone different types of skills: bug reports and internal blog posts require technical writing; support documents require the ability to translate technical information into understandable language; support replies and chat messages call for skill with tone, specificity, and brevity. Most fun is that the internal messaging we do through Slack allows me to write like I talk – it’s the place to write easily and with humor, especially in our water cooler channels where we goof off and post lots of GIFs.

This week I and many Automatticians have been writing about our workdays, and today I want to approach from a writing angle, with word count estimates pulled from my Wednesday workday.

For a little background, I am a Happiness Engineer on the Store team, and my days consist mainly of providing live chat support to Business and Enterprise users. What this means is that I am always working to improve the WordPress.com experience by troubleshooting issues live with users, by submitting bug reports, updating documents, testing, and by being in constant internal communication with teammates. While on live chat, we collaborate in real-time on Slack. We troubleshoot together so we can give the best possible solution to the user on the line.

What this means is that we all read and write. A lot. And quickly. So I thought it would be interesting to look at my day in terms of communication inputs and outputs. The graph above shows an estimated word count output for Wednesday, October 8, not including this blog post, which I count as personal word count (Slack and O2s/P2s are our internal communication tools):

Support Chat messages: 250+ (2500+ words in 14 chats)
Internal Slack messages: 240+ (2400+ words)
Support tickets answered: 12 (1600+ words)
O2 comments: 7 (189 words)
O2 posts: 1 (82 words)
Trac tickets: 1 (65 words)
Support docs updated: 1 (14 words)
Words spoken aloud: 1
emails: 0
TOTAL: 6769+ words

**Number of times I laughed out loud: 14

By the time I manually added up estimated my word output, I did not have it in me to go back and calculate the word count for all the O2 posts, O2 comments, Slack back scrolls, live chat messages, and tickets I read today, so I’ll break it down by unit instead of word count:

Communication input and output Andrea Badgley Happiness Engineer
Communication input and output for Oct 8, 2014

I found it funny that I only spoke one word aloud during my work day. The one word I spoke was “Bye!” as we all signed off of our team video hangout.

You’ll probably notice something strange there on the email line as well: those 40+ emails I read were notifications of blogs I follow that are relevant to my work or to the company as a whole. We do not use email as a means of communication for the most part – we interact via Slack, where we text chat synchronously, and via blogs that are open to the entire company. Unlike email, which is closed and only available to the senders and recipients, all company communication is archived and available for anyone at Auttomattic to read and participate in. This makes Automattic an extraordinarily democratic, and empowering, work environment: every Automattician has access to everything. I think a lot of work environments would benefit from the open discussion that inline commenting on a blog facilitates when compared with the closed system of email.

So how’s my writing going? It’s going awesome. With all the practice I’m getting on the job, and as our family settles into a new routine to accommodate me working again, I’m slowly adding personal writing back into my life as well. In fact, this post bumps my total word count to 7000+ words for the day. Not bad for a writer who’s trying to make time to write.

In an effort to get to know each other’s work days better, and to share publicly what it is like to work for a distributed company where most of us work from home, some of us at Automattic will be publishing “A Day in the Life” posts on our personal blogs throughout this week. The posts will be tagged #a8cday if you’d like to follow along. And if you think a job like this sounds awesome, join us! We’re hiring.