Eight weeks ago, at the crack of dawn on a Monday morning, I paged through a very intriguing document. Life-changing words jumped out at me, stark against the white background:
“I will never stop learning. / I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. / I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. / I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. / I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. / I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. / I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. / I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. / Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.”
– The Automattic Creed
It was my offer letter for Automattic, the technology company that owns WordPress.com, and their creed was included in my contract. I was going to sign on the line, thereby officially taking the leap from something good and familiar into the compelling unknown.
Not only I would be joining an iconic company that powers 30% of the internet, I’d get to work from anywhere in the world, since the whole company is distributed. It would be the culmination of a dream I’d had since 2011, when I had first read the 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris.
So I turned in my notice for my previous job, took a much needed break, and then started at Automattic on April 16, 2018.
It’s only been two weeks since I officially started my new gig, and I’m already ridiculously happy with my decision. And what makes this weird? I’m doing customer support. I’m on the Customer Marketing team, but I’m doing support for a complex and sophisticated technology platform. And who the heck is ever happy doing customer support?
There are three main reasons why the onboarding process to Automattic has been the best I’ve ever experienced.
1. A True Introduction to the Automattic Culture.
When you join Automattic as a full-time employee, you have to do customer support for WordPress.com for three weeks and spend a week in support annually, for evermore, regardless of position. The company believes in having a connection with the people who use our products, and this is demonstrated early on. No worrying about my real role in the business just yet — our customers come first. Learning comes first.
I am reasonably well-versed on various aspects of technology, but I wouldn’t consider myself above average in this realm. I can slowly interpret some HTML, but CSS alludes me entirely. And until these past few weeks, I had no idea how the back end of WordPress.com was organized. Yet I’ve been tasked to go through support tickets, to directly answer questions that our customers have. If I can’t figure it out myself, there are tons of experts who do know the answers who I can ping though the collaboration tool Slack.
I’ve reached out to many, many people since I started. Everyone has not only been responsive, but truly helpful, even with my questions where the answers may have seemed obvious. Complete strangers have helped me out. People are nice here, which is much more than what I can say about other workplaces.
2. Shiny New Things. Tons of them.
Can I just talk about all the stuff you get when you start at this company?
Soon after I signed my contract, I put in my order for a fully equipped home office, including a top-of-the-line Macbook Pro, a standing desk (which I’ve never had before), a cushy ergonomic chair, and the tech accessories I need for a comfortable workplace.
In order to “dress the part” of an Automattician, I ordered a bunch of items from the swag store, which is free for employees. Last week, I received enough WordPress.com shirts to transform my wardrobe. I took advantage of the one-time gift of a Fitbit, which I assume is to make sure that we don’t grow roots on our chairs as people who work from home.
In addition to this, I was surprised this morning by a box sitting right outside of the door to my apartment. I had received a Welcome Package, with even more items, including a book on leadership for women. This really highlights how diversity and inclusion is important in the company. Included was a post card gently nudging us to go visit the Field Guide, which is considered the “authoritative resource to all things Automattic.”
3. Readily Available Guides for Newbies and Not-so-Newbies.
Even before becoming an employee, when you’re still on your trial period (more on that in a future post), you have access to the Field Guide to help you understand a bit more about the company. Topics range from anything from “Pay and Benefits,” “Communication,” and “Travel,” to more technical areas.
All of this has been painstakingly written out for full transparency, and is frequently updated. If you have questions about about the employee experience, the answer is likely in the Field Guide already.
But aside from the handy written guide, you’re never really left alone. You have people assigned to help you when you start. Prior to day one, I already received an email outlining the expectations for my first two days. For Day One and Two, training was broken down into two shifts per day, over the course of two days, in which I had to go through training modules at my own pace. If I had questions, I knew there would be a specific person online to jump in.
Even better, I understand that even when I stop being new, the culture of help continues. After all, it’s in the creed.
With each passing day, I’m more convinced that this company culture is remarkable. How can a remote workplace can be so warm and inclusive? I’ve only been a part of the team for a few days, but I’ve already been assigned a buddy to help me through my time in customer support, chatted with my mentor via webcam, booked a flight to Montreal for a team meet up, been invited to a Filipino group within the company, and received plenty of WordPress.com goodies.
If onboarding is any indication of my future experiences at Automattic, I’m in for a real treat. This adventure has just started!
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