This week is five years since I started working at Automattic. In some ways, it doesn’t seem like it could possibly be that long. We’re growing fast — over 80% of the company started after me. At the same time, my job has changed a lot and when I think of everything I’ve worked on, I don’t know how it all fits into five years.
In a few weeks I leave for a three month, paid sabbatical — a perk everyone is eligible for after five years. I’ve been getting advice from colleagues. Unplug. Take time for yourself. Travel. I’m excited for the opportunity.
People are often surprised to hear that I’ve worked at the same company for this long. Apparently five years is a long time in tech. Or maybe it’s because I’m a millennial. Regardless, they usually want to know why I’ve stayed for so long. The sabbatical is a big, exciting thing to talk about, but the day-to-day flexibility is the real reason. We have an open vacation policy, I get to set my own hours, and I can work from anywhere with an internet connection. The list goes on. This can be an adjustment for most people — especially not having a central office to work in, but after you’re used to it, the alternative sounds worse.
Lots of people tell me they’ve tried working “remote” and they don’t understand how I do it — or how we run a company of over 700 people this way. I’ve learned this usually means they’ve had an opportunity to work from home a few days a week. It sounds like the same thing, but it’s fundamentally different from what Automattic does. The main difference is communication. If you work in an office, you’re naturally worried about missing out on what’s happening in the office. As a fully distributed company, communication is all online and there are no office meetings that you never hear about. We have a saying, “P2 or it didn’t happen”, which means if you don’t post notes to an internal blog, you can’t expect anybody to know about it. And everyone does because it’s the primary way we communicate.
I’m excited to take a break and unplug, but I’m equally excited to come back this fall because things are moving fast around here and there are some exciting changes ahead.