My Beat: Carl Engström | Labs

Meet some of our busy engineers, product managers and technical team members – who are working from home at the moment, but still have plenty of big projects in the pipeline.

Carl Engström (known to everyone as “Eng”) is a Staff Engineer in our Gothenburg office. But right now, he’s staying home and keeping busy with the launch of a much-anticipated new feature… 


I’m lucky with my usual morning routine — I can walk to the office in 20 minutes (Gothenburg is a small place!) and it’s a huge luxury to start the day that way. Now, of course, I don’t need to go anywhere, but I still try to get up and online fairly early – otherwise the whole morning can slip away before you know it.


At this hour, it’s fairly quiet on Slack and email, so I get stuck into my most important tasks of the day before my regular team stand-ups at 10am. My job is pretty varied — I work for a tribe called Core Experience, which looks after the fundamentals of the music app, like the actual playlisting systems and library. I’m part of the Tech Steering group for this tribe — a bunch of 6-8 senior and/or opinionated engineers (I think I might qualify as both!) that helps decide which direction we go in and which initiatives we should be prioritizing right now. Together, we plan out the next quarter’s strategy, which involves talking to key people in the tribe and beyond, and I really enjoy getting an overview on what’s going on across the company.

I’ve also been working on the launch of a really exciting new feature recently – Unlimited Collection, which lifts the limit on the number of songs you can save on Spotify. Previously, it was capped at 10,000, but our ‘power users’ have been asking us for more for a long time. So it’s great to be able to respond and give these people the unlimited library they’ve been wishing for.

I must admit it’s been a bit of a challenge working from home during a launch like this. In some ways, it’s made us all more productive by cutting out non-essential meetings and giving us longer blocks of focus time, but it’s also been harder to come to decisions and make things happen as we normally would. Luckily, my team has worked together for quite some time now, so we communicate well together and all know how each other works.


If I’m not too busy, I try to get out for some fresh air and a walk at lunchtime. My girlfriend and I have a fairly big flat, but it still feels good to see something other than the same four walls all day!


Round about now, the US wakes up and there are suddenly more people online and more questions needing to be answered. So I don’t get much coding done in the afternoons – it’s mostly Slack messaging and Hangouts. A couple of days a month, I go on-call for some of Spotify’s most vital user-facing systems – like parts of the actual audio playback, playlisting and so on – which means I can get paged at any time if there’s a problem to fix. I remember the first time I was on-call, it was a bit scary since there’s a lot to be responsible for, but I feel less like an imposter now that I’ve survived a few incidents! And I know my colleagues are always there for me if I need them anyway.

One last thing to mention is the work I do for Spotify’s internal ‘university’ (it’s called ‘Tech Learning’ internally) – a colleague and I devised the first course around the company’s migration to Kubernetes and are now figuring out how to run this remotely in the future. This migration is something that lots of engineers are very excited about, but there’s a big knowledge gap right now, so hopefully we can help to fill that in some way going forwards.


I try to finish up at 4 or 5pm – although that’s easier said than done when you’re working from home and still getting pinged by colleagues in the US. These days, I spend my evenings chatting with friends and family online, reading books and hanging out with my girlfriend. And I’m playing lots of video games too – I’d more or less given up, but times like these seem to call for a bit of a relapse…




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