Each day we speak to a journalist about their new normal, today we hear from Martina Lees.
Martina Lees is a Senior Property Writer at The Times and The Sunday Times.
Where are you working from right now?
I am wfh, where I have colonised my husband’s desk in his office in the loft of our Victorian terrace.
What’s your new morning routine?
Wrestle children, 4 and 6, out of pyjamas for Joe Wicks; clean bathroom in absence of much-missed cleaner/queue outside Waitrose for 20min/bribe 6-year-old to do maths/bake banana bread or any combination of these; before starting work at around lunchtime into the evening once husband takes over the children. Our team has two daily conference calls to plan ahead and discuss ideas.
What does your workwear look like these days?
Cargo jeans and a jumper with my new pick-me-up snakeskin trainers.
How has your working week changed since Covid-19 hit?
Work days are now 1pm-9pm to juggle children with no childcare apart from my husband.
What are the current plans for filling your pages?
The Times Bricks & Mortar and Sunday Times Home are both a little smaller because there are fewer ads (although we are being read more – see final answer). It’s a combination of offering useful, trustworthy answers to readers’ coronavirus dilemmas (such as advice for homemovers, renters and landlords); uplifting, practical advice (lots of gardening and cocooning interiors, including what you can do with what you already have); and adjusting regulars such as homes for sales so it reflects the new normal, eg only featuring homes that you can view on video.
What does a work lunch look like these days?
Creative open sandwiches or salad, enjoyed with my family, possibly in the garden – a lovely change from Pret
What’s the biggest challenge for your desk/publication right now?
Being relevant. Stories we had planned recently now won’t work and need to be repackaged or held. Longer term, it will be difficult to write about places and homes without being able to visit in person.
Has anything positive come out of this?
Personally I think we have had to think again about what’s really important. Property journalism can be very consumerist and materialistic – much of that is inappropriate now. It’s much harder to buy a new house or sofa! I think it’s great that we have to think differently about what we have and really need, and how we live, to value what matters long-term.
What’s your top tip for PRs right now?
If you have an expert with valuable input now, get them on the phone to us so we can get original, colourful and useful content. It’s harder to find the right people with everyone working from home.
What’s your comeback plan?
We haven’t left! In fact, The Times subscriptions are up. People want journalism they can trust more than ever.
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