MY HOME LIFE: EMMA TUCKER

The editor of The Sunday Times on combining remote working with family life at home in Herne Hill

17 April, 2020

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

I live in Herne Hill, south London, and have been here for around 15 years.


WHO DO YOU LIVE WITH?

I live with my husband and on and off with my three sons and my three stepsons. My youngest left home in October 2019, but the coronavirus crisis has meant that two of them are back living with us.


WHAT IS YOUR HOME LIKE?

My home is light, modern, airy and moderately tidy. It has high ceilings, and from the outside looks like every other Victorian house in our road. But the façade is a fake. The house was built in the early 2000s, and entering it is a bit like entering the Tardis.

I have created a very efficient little office in one of the boys’ bedrooms where the Wi-Fi is good and I am blissfully cut off from the rest of the house

WHAT’S YOUR MORNING RITUAL?

My morning ritual usually involves an early start: a quick read of emails and The Times online; a cup of tea; a run. And then a breath-taking dash to get ready for the office. How it has changed… the stress of leaving the house is no longer there, so lately I’ve been walking to the shops first thing to avoid the queues (young men get through a lot of milk, bread and everything else and I can’t get a delivery slot from Tesco). But the weather has been so beautiful that I combine this with my daily walk round the local park before coming back, making more tea and going upstairs to start work.


WHAT’S YOUR DAILY ROUTINE AT THE MOMENT?

My daily routine at the moment, apart from the two days that I go into the office (I have a key worker pass) consists of being closeted away in a room at the top of the house from where I edit a national newspaper. This involves a lot of Google Hangout meetings, messaging various teams on Slack, talking to colleagues on the phone and generally juggling messages coming at me from all sorts of different directions. The hardest thing is logging in to the system at work to see how the print pages are shaping up.

I miss the cut and thrust of being in the office and interacting with my colleagues

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE HOUSE TO WORK FROM, AND WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET YOURSELF IN THE WORK ZONE?

I don’t have much choice because the downstairs of the house is open-plan and my husband is down there talking to his screen pretty much all day long. So I have created a very efficient little office in one of the boys’ bedrooms where the Wi-Fi is good and I am blissfully cut off from the rest of the house. My only concern is that the background to my video calls involves bunk beds and drying washing. To get into the work zone doesn’t take much, as editing a newspaper requires me to be always available, so I am always ‘on’.


ANY TIPS FOR KEEPING A GOOD WORK-LIFE BALANCE WHILE WORKING FROM HOME?

Stretch often. Leave your phone upstairs when you go down to make a cup of tea. Embrace your cat. And have something to look forward to in the evening, like a good novel. If a work Zoom call is going on too long, mute your camera and fold the washing. In the evenings Zoom takes on a whole new dimension with virtual family get-togethers and drinks with friends. Keeping in touch with people socially through technology is crucial.

Stretch often and leave your phone upstairs when you go down to make a cup of tea

WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?

Twice a week I have an hour-long session with my personal trainer via Zoom. I go for runs and early morning walks. If I get really desperate I tackle some clutter with loud music playing.


WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS?

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – a novel about a dysfunctional stepfamily in Philadelphia.


FAVOURITE/CURRENT BOXSET YOU ARE WATCHING?

Narcos Mexico, season two. I got hooked on Narcos through season one. It’s set in Colombia in the Eighties, which is when I lived in Bogotá.

Keeping in touch with people socially through technology is crucial

WHAT ARE THE BEST AND WORST THINGS ABOUT BEING IN LOCKDOWN FOR YOU?

The best thing is being able to be outdoors at times of the day when I would normally be in the office. So I can actually step into the garden to see the sunset – ordinarily I’d still be at my desk. The worst thing is shoulder ache, the fact that everything seems to take slightly longer than it normally would, which has a big impact when you are producing a newspaper; and generally, I miss the cut and thrust of being in the office and interacting with my colleagues. Creating a newspaper is a collaborative experience and doing this remotely is a real challenge.


WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

The only thing bad about not getting enough sleep is worrying about it. (But actually I’m sleeping very well at the moment.)


Emma Tucker is the editor of The Sunday Times. Her appointment In January 2020 made her the first female editor of the paper in more than a century. She was previously deputy editor of The Times and her career has also encompassed roles as a reporter for the Financial Times and editor of FT Weekend