Podcasts

Episode 4: Emma Tucker

By May 23, 2020 No Comments

Cross-Continent Comms
Remote Control Episode 4

With Emma Tucker

Providing unique insight from a company with major offices across the world, Emma, discusses the internal communication challenges of a dispersed workforce.

In this episode we discuss:

💡 How Emma delivers C-level updates on a global scale

💡 The technical challenges in her role

💡 How Temenos use their digital channels

Remote Control - Emma Tucker

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Episode Transcript

Jack:

Thanks for joining me today, Emma, the head of Internal Comms at Temenos. I’m really excited to hear from you today. So, yeah, welcome.

Emma:

Thanks, Jack. I’m excited to talk to you as well.

Jack:

On the Remote Control podcast so far, we’ve spoken to some internal comms consultants, some people that work in the related employee engagement fields, but today here to speak to someone that’s working in-house, a truly global brand, is… Yeah, it’s going to be really interesting to hear some of your key challenges, some of your priorities and how remote working is impacting your role and probably the employees’ lives at Temenos. So, yeah, a bit of background on maybe some of your key priorities and what you’re working on at Temenos would be great.

Emma:

Sure. So yeah, I head up global internal communications for Temenos, so really my role is all about writing and crafting and sending out communications to the 7,500 employees that we have around the world. And it covers everything from organisational changes, product launches, things that we might be doing from a marketing perspective, even down to the policies that might be changing. It’s really very varied. I’ve been with Temenos for the last 18 months, and I’m really the first dedicated internal communications professional to join the company.

So, as a function it’s relatively new for the organisation, which is exciting for me because it means there’s plenty of opportunity to bring about change and have an impact, which is what I think internal communications, when done properly, can really do. It’s an exciting role. The challenges for me are very varied, but I like the fact that I get to work with lots of different people at all levels of the organisation. It can be quite creative at times as well. Yeah, and I’m really passionate about how the… or the value that, when internal communications is done well, what that can bring to an organisation and more importantly to the employees that work there.

Jack:

Yeah. And I guess, like you mentioned, that’s a sizable audience you’ve got there to have a good impact with and be creative with, 7,500 employees, and they’re dotted all around the globe. How is that… It’s going to different offices or they’re homeworkers? How does that work?

Emma:

Yeah, so, Temenos is a very distributed organisation. We work with banks in 150 countries all across the world. So that means we have people basically based wherever the banks are. We actually have 64 offices in 40 different countries. So all of the 7,500 people, you start to get a sense of how geographically spread we are. Yeah. It’s interesting because obviously time zones form a big challenge for us in a global organisation.

Jack:

Yeah. I guess getting those messages out in a timely fashion across the different time zones, I guess not really thought about that before, but that’s a big part of the planning process.

Emma:

Yeah. It can be. And the reality is that there’s no perfect solution because what works for one region doesn’t work for another. So, that just really, I guess, dictates maybe the kind of the channels and the ways that we communicate to make sure that we can be as fair as possible.

Jack:

Yeah. Okay. So I guess we’ve touched on it already, the… You mentioned how distributed the company is, and with employees all over the world, and in this podcast we’re going to talk about the trend which is already here and it just exacerbates and I guess it’s that people working remotely, so a nice, easy question. Is that something that yourself, do you get the opportunity to work remotely at Temenos?

Emma:

Yeah, I do. And actually, it’s really quite commonplace in the organisation. I’m based in the London office and I typically work from here three or four days a week, but I also work from home and I work on my commute. I work when I travel, and it’s very easy to do that, to be honest, because it is kind of part of the culture. So, really, particularly because I manage communications at a global level, I have to work remotely because I’m working with employees in lots of different jurisdictions. So, by that virtue alone, I think we all work remotely really in the organisation.

Jack:

Okay. That’s really interesting. I guess… I mean, obviously, you’ve been there for 18 months and how has the company, maybe even within that time, adapted to this remote working lifestyle? Or was it something that has been ingrained within Temenos from a very early stage, do you think?

Emma:

Yeah. I think, actually, it’s probably been there from day one. I think when the founder of the organisation first set it up, he didn’t really want to have the headquarters based in the US or the UK, for example, which is quite unusual for a software company. But he really wanted to be where banks were, which meant that we were everywhere. And so really, right from day one, we had people in lots of different locations. So, yeah, I’d say it’s pretty much in our DNA to work remotely which is good because it feels like we’re already ready for the way that the world is changing in terms of how and where people work from.

Jack:

So, yeah, I guess, a bit of research that sparked this podcast was seeing something from the Office for National Statistics that suggest over 50% of the workforce will be working remotely in 2020. So, yeah, I guess Temenos is already ahead of the curve on that with the global offices. But within those regions, are you seeing more people, say from the London office, working to get maybe a bit of a quiet space from home, or, yeah, do you see that within their offices, do you see that remote working trend going that way or is it very much office-based still?

Emma:

I think there is a kind of cultural element in terms of like a country culture, if you like, that maybe dictates it. So some nationalities or some areas of the world are maybe more open to it than others, so that naturally influences the employees at work. Certainly in London I think it’s really becoming very commonplace for people to work from home. And there’s such a pressure on office space, on the commute time and the cost of it, even from an environmental perspective. But I think when you can allow people to work from home, I think giving them some freedom and you’re trusting them to do their job regardless of where they do that from, I think it’s certainly the right direction that all organisations should be going in. We give people a lot of freedom at Temenos.

We don’t have a particular corporate culture so we don’t have a lot of formal policies and things that govern how people work. But we do expect them to deliver results, but how and where they do that is largely up to them. And for sure, like your manager and the people around you definitely influence that. My team, we all do it so there’s absolutely no taboo to doing it. But I suppose if you work in a team where that’s not so commonplace, then maybe it’s a little bit harder, but you just need maybe one or two people to start that trend, and then people see that it brings lots of advantages as well.

Jack:

Yeah. I guess it needs someone to pick up that torch and then, those who are probably dying to do it, but maybe don’t want to be that first person.

Emma:

Yeah.

Jack:

Yeah. It’s interesting what you’re saying, a couple of key words, really like, how you talked about the freedom, giving employees the freedom to get the job done but you’re not pressures over them to sit in a cubicle for however long. That’s really… It’s ideal I think from an employee point of view being trusted. I think that comes hand-in-hand, that freedom and that trust. That’s really interesting to hear. And also the environmental impact that you mentioned, that’s really interesting to hear. That’s in your thoughts at Temenos in terms of commuting.

Emma:

Yeah, definitely. I think it would be remiss of us not to be thinking of things in that way. Everything we do at Temenos is about creating a more sustainable financial future, if you like, for people. So it’s about helping banks to perform better through our software. And that kind of sustainability of business, I think, comes through in all its kind of meanings. And I think the environmental footprint that we all leave, we need to be conscious of it and we certainly are. So yeah, it’s definitely a part of why we are so behind remote working as well.

Jack:

Yeah. I know. That’s great to hear. And maybe not something that comes up in everyone’s view of remote working. So, yeah. Maybe focusing in on your role as opposed to Temenos as a whole, I’m keen to understand what communication channels you use to reach the 7,500 employees, and also keen to understand if there is a different mix based on location, or if it’s office-based versus remote workers. I’m really keen to hear how you do that.

Emma:

I think we probably treat everybody the same from a corporate perspective, and we really rely on digital channels to do that because they’re the fastest and fairest way to reach everybody. So email is really the mainstay communication tool that we use, which is not necessarily particularly innovative, but it is really fast and it’s informative and it’s equals for everybody if you like, but isn’t brilliant at facilitating conversations. So we do also use tools like Yammer. We use a lot of Skype and Zoom. We run virtual meetings a lot as well, which are really important because obviously face-to-face is really difficult when you’re dealing with a global audience. But we do things like stream big events and sessions with our leadership team, which we do with you guys at streamGo, and that gives us the ability to talk to everybody at once.

Now, obviously, the time zone thing isn’t always helpful to us in that regard, but we do try and rotate where we host those events from to get round that. So next month we’re actually hosting what we call a leadership live, which is like a panel with our ex-cos, our executive committee team. And we asked them lots of different questions on the business, on the culture of the organisation, on all latest innovations, whatever it is that’s topical at the moment. And the next one we’re doing is actually taking place in India where all our development hubs are. So that’s nice because we typically have posted those from London in the past. So it’s nice to be able to take it on tour for lack of a better description.

Jack:

Oh, yeah. Get a tour bus sorted and get some roadies involved.

Emma:

Well, it will be my first trip to India, so I’m quite excited about it.

Jack:

Oh, very good. Yeah. Oh, well, that’s a perfect example of working remotely, I guess.

Emma:

Yeah, definitely. I’m really excited to go to India because I really want to get a better understanding of how they work out there because actually 50% of our workforce is based there in our product development hubs. So they, if you like, they work quite differently to the rest of us because… Well, actually, I don’t really know. I think they… I assume they’re working much more behind computer screens and they’re busy writing code and whatever developers do. So it will be really interesting to actually get out and there and see people because it’s really hard when you’re in an office environment in London to kind of picture almost how people work elsewhere. And I think it’s really important to go out and see them in their locations, talk to them, get to know them, find out what’s important to them and what they need from us, what they get locally in addition, as well. So, yeah, I’m excited to do that.

Jack:

Yeah. That’s really cool. And something that you just mentioned at the end there about what they receive locally, talking to other people involved in internal communications and looking at some research, there’s a lot that talks about line managers being almost like the key to internal communications and making sure that it applies to individuals’ roles and that opportunity to ask immediate questions and feedback. And I guess with a workforce spread so globally, those line managers, I guess, will vary in styles and how they take the feedback on and how they receive the internal comms themselves.

Emma:

Yeah, exactly. Line managers play a hugely important role and naturally some people are better communicators than others. Some people will always share information that comes to them with their teams and they understand why they should be sharing that. And other people require a little bit more prompting and coaching. But, yeah, certainly, it would be impossible for me to reach everybody in how the things that we do at a global level, what it actually means for them in practice locally. And I don’t know the answer to that, either, because it does vary from team to team. So, yeah, we really do rely on managers and people on the ground to help translate those global things into something meaningful for people.

Jack:

And these leadership live events, in terms of the questions I put to the ex-co in the topics, is that sourced prior to the event from Temenos’ employees? Is that kind of key talking points that the ex-co want to get out there? A mixture of both, maybe?

Emma:

Yeah, a bit of a mixture of both. So it tends to be that things move really fast at Temenos, so there’s always lots of big key announcements that are taking place. So we definitely use them as an opportunity to reinforce the key things that are going on, or what we want people to know. But we also give opportunity for people to ask questions so that they can raise the things that are important for them. I think what I’ve found, not just at Temenos but in previous organisations, too, I think people don’t always ask those big questions on the big stage, if that makes sense. So they tend to-

Jack:

Yeah, I can totally understand that.

Emma:

… ask those things. Yeah, so, they tend to ask the things to their line manager. So, although it would be great to collect questions from people all over the organisation, the reality is that it’s not really the forum that we can answer their really difficult questions. And I think that really comes back to your point about arming line managers, both giving them the permission to talk about this stuff, but also the details so that they can.

Jack:

Yeah, no, that’s really interesting, I guess. Yeah. It takes a brave person to put their hands up in a big event and ask a member of the ex-co already can have a tough question and then, yeah, I think we’ve all been in various events, whether it’s internal or external, where the presenters looked out to the audience and said, “Any questions?” And everyone’s suddenly found a very interesting piece of floor.

Emma:

Yeah. Well, there’s always one brave person and it tends to be the same person every time. You can always rely on one person to do that, right?

Jack:

Yeah. And again, back to a previous point, maybe just take one person to ask the question and get a good answer back. So encourage other people to get involved and ask their questions, too.

Emma:

Yeah, definitely. What we do as well that helps that is run smaller events. So, when you run kind of informal chats, so actually this year, our CEO has been going out. He became CEO at the beginning of the year, and so he’s been going out and visiting lots of our offices and spending time with people there, giving a kind of 10, 15 minute talk, but then using the rest of the time just to network in a really informal way to get to know people and hear the things that are challenging people or the things that they love or frustrations that they might have. Because I think it is only when you talk to people one-on-one or in a few that you really get that kind of insight into what’s going on in the organisation as well.

Jack:

Yeah. No, I can totally understand that. And, yeah, I think that, well, from my perspective, if I was in the employee’s point of view, I’d really appreciate getting to see the CEO and having the opportunity to ask those questions. That’d be really valuable.

Emma:

Yeah, definitely. I know people really like it and I think it’s a win-win all round, really.

Jack:

Yeah. Great. So I guess thinking about your internal comms plans, what challenges do you see as remote working perhaps increases? And this is maybe more people choosing to work from alternative locations in the office, as opposed to the global aspect. What challenges do you see for how the internal comms is getting out there?

Emma:

I think for me the challenge is the same and it’s been like this for internal communications, as long as I’ve worked in it. And that it’s all about keeping people engaged in your organisation and getting them connected, feeling that they’re contributing to something important and something big. And that’s what I’m really passionate about. That’s what drives me on a day-to-day basis. And I do think that fully remote teams or even hybrid remote teams, if you like, can present a challenge. And I think that informal knowledge sharing and the relationships that you have with people is perhaps one of those. I think it’s difficult to create the same bond with people that you have when you see them face-to-face, so you have to make a much more conscious effort to do that.

And I think from a communications point of view, the challenge is the same for us as it is for all the employees working here as well. I think we have to be careful not just to rely on digital communications because that feels like the right thing to do because we can reach everybody. But actually the kind of traditional things like face-to-face or events or whatever it might be, they still have a role in supporting communications across the company. So, yeah, I think that’s a challenge. I think one of the things that I was thinking about as I was preparing for the podcast was about the fact that everybody is accessible all the time, so you don’t really have any downtime anymore when it comes to work, unless you find it for yourself or whatever.

And I think that employee wellbeing is something that will be a challenge for organisations, allowing people to know when to stop. When you work globally, you can always log on, find someone else online. People can always ping you questions and things. And I think that we need to make sure that we’re not risking people’s wellbeing and the balance that they have in their life, just because we can work anytime from anywhere. I think that that kind of freedom I spoke about comes with a bit of responsibility as well.

Jack:

Yeah. Well, that’s another really interesting point, which I guess could be a next spinoff podcast series. Yeah, that’s really interesting. Yes. Like you say, just because you can contact people digitally 24/7 doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to do. And I think could probably agree that it’s not the right thing for employers to do, but as an employee, maybe having the confidence or that you don’t have to be responding to an email that you get from someone that you’ve just happened to check it while you’re watching TV at night time or over breakfast, being confident enough to say, “Nope, not ready for work just yet.”

Emma:

Yeah. And I think you have to set your own boundaries in that way. I think very few organisations, I think there are some that are out there, but I think very few organisations will ever say to you, “That’s enough now. You’ve worked hard enough. There’s nothing else to do.” There is always something else to do. And if you work for a high-growth company like Temenos, then there is a sort of relentless cycle of, what’s next, what’s next, what’s next. So I think you do have to set your own boundaries. And ultimately that’s going to benefit everybody because you certainly don’t want people that are going to burn out because they’ve been working around the clock for too long, because that’s not good for anybody.

Jack:

No, definitely. One of the answers that sometimes comes back around challenges and in my research for this, is a lot around measurement of internal communications and what to choose to measure and whether it’s about change or employee engagement, employee NPS. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that and maybe things that you’re putting in place at Temenos.

Emma:

Yeah. So, measurement has been a bit of a bugbear for me in the last 18 months. I think when I came in and I saw that actually we were… Email was really important, but actually we were using Outlook to send all our emails. So at the moment we have no way of tracking who’s reading what, how they’re interacting with things, whether they’re clicking on the information that we share, whether some employees in some locations are more responsive than others. So that’s something that I am changing. So I am introducing a tool called Populate which will enable me to do exactly that, really. So-

Jack:

Oh, nice.

Emma:

… that’s really exciting. And I’m hoping that having that insight will also then drive the way we communicate and also the messages that we share as well. But, yeah, I think measurement is a challenge. And I think it’s just about understanding what are the key priorities in the business and then taking that back to what you measure, because otherwise, you don’t want to measure for the sake of measuring, but it’s about saying, “Okay, these are the things that are important,” or, “How are we doing against those…”

Jack:

Yeah. Someone that I was talking to, and we were talking about this measurement piece, but it was particularly around an event like leadership live, for example. And they mentioned, some of their measurement tools or tactics are to kind of comb through the questions that come after it and see how many could be categorised as, “Okay, that person doesn’t understand the update that we just gave,” and kind of… It’s not really a score that can be put up anywhere, but it’s understanding the effectiveness of that one particular message going out in that one event, and learning about that for next time. So I thought that was a really interesting way of using questions and maybe comments to inform and measure how that communication went. I thought that’s pretty interesting.

Emma:

Yeah. I think it’s a really good practice to have. I think that, again, when I’ve got the new email tool Populate, there’s lots of nice features that tool enables you to send kind of advent things, so you can also then run internal things like the leadership live as an event so that you can then survey people, find information more easily. So it’s really just about, yeah, getting, like you say, feedback at that moment in time rather than a week later and saying, “Oh, and how do you feel about this now?” when people have moved on.

Jack:

Yeah. How happy, on a scale of one to 10, today?

Emma:

Yeah. Very subjective.

Jack:

Yeah. Okay. That’s cool. To be honest, you lead in into the next point that I want to talk which was around the tools and technology you’ve already mentioned. So, is Temenos… Maybe just go over those again and what you use those for. It’d be really interesting to hear.

Emma:

Yeah. I think the challenge for a lot of organisations is keeping up with the technology because it changes so fast and it’s hard to keep up with a personal level and it’s really hard for organisations to keep up with it. And I would like us to do more on an internal perspective that, obviously, as a technology company, we’re brilliant at providing really cool technology to clients. But what I really want to see happen is that we provide just that same level of cool technology to the employees that work here as well, so that really mirrors who we are as an organisation. And I think that’s a struggle that a lot of organisations have, and there are definitely some really cool tools that are out there. So, yeah, as I say, we’re a bit of a work in progress when it comes to the channels that we have.

But I think big organisations often have big teams that are working on channels as well as the content. And I think when you’re a smaller team, your content is really what comes first. And so that’s really been my priority, and it will continue to be my priority. But, yeah, the tools and the channels that we use to get the messages out there already, I think can, if used properly and if they’re the right tools, then they can really transform how you communicate. And more importantly, and I think this goes back to the point around line managers and how people relate things to them in their role and what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis, I think if you can get the right tools that enable that collaboration and really support how people do their day jobs, that also provide really good communication, then I think that’s the dream, really. So, we’re not there yet, but hopefully that’s the direction we’re going in-

Jack:

Working towards.

Emma:

Yeah.

Jack:

So, that sounds really good and really interesting. And again, other conversations I had around this as I’ve spoken about, some of the most popular tools out there and their experience having worked fantastic in one organisation moved to another one and it’s almost as if there’s just some internal barriers. But the implementation of it has not quite gone so smoothly and it’s almost died a death before it could even get off the ground and becomes a bit of a flagship of failure, unfortunately. But I think, like you mentioned, it’s a real opportunity to connect with people on different levels as long as it’s, like you said, done properly, really. And it’s much, much easier said than done.

Emma:

Yeah. It is. And I think people have really got to feel the value that it brings to them. If it makes their job easier, if they can find the information quicker, or they can contact somebody quicker because of the technology, then they’re going to use it. If it doesn’t do that, it doesn’t add any value and it’s just a nice add-on, people are busy doing their jobs so they won’t do it.

And I think to your point that it’s not really the tools, but it’s whether people use them or not. And that kind of cultural shift, or, when particularly, if you’re introducing a new tool, if it requires a change in behaviour for people, it’s that that drives whether it’s a successful launch of that particular tool or not. Whether people understand it and know how to it and see the value in it, then, I think, then you’ve got a good tool. But if you don’t get that implementation right and you don’t take people with you, then, yeah, then people will just find another tool that works for them better.

Jack:

Yeah. I think that’s a really valuable point that you made about people seeing the value in it. I think the ones that probably don’t work, the systems are put in place from almost like a top-down value. So it’s like, we want to get this message out there, and this is the easiest way for us to do it, or, the way that we can track the rest, but it’s maybe not so much consideration for the employee and how they are able to… Do they have to log into a totally different system? Do they have to reboot the system because it’s always crushing? There’s various things which puts barriers in place from just receiving the message, which, like you say, in some scenarios, will come face-to-face with the line manager much easier than logging into a new system, and… Yeah, it’s interesting, that the value input two way.

Emma:

Yeah, it does. And I think that the challenge for most organisations is that everybody starts off with a blank page and says, “Great. Right. How can we create some really cool collaboration tools that we can use for everything?” It never works like that because you’ve inevitably already got things. People come with stuff that they work from in other organisations or… Really, it can be a whole host of different reasons why there isn’t a streamlined approach to this stuff. So, yeah, it’s not an easy… It’s easy to talk about channels and I think people often think that it’s the tools that are the issue. And the tool can be the issue, but I think there isn’t a simple solution to either.

Jack:

Yeah, no, I totally agree, and it carries a lot of forum comments, the kind of social media threads that I’ve seen recently. So the last question, and this is, I saved the hardest until last, I just didn’t feel I could do a podcast called Remote Control without asking, what are you watching? And would you recommend it?

Emma:

Okay. So, what am I watching? I have to say, I do love the fact that Netflix and Prime and all these different services are out there so that you can definitely binge-watch series, although I don’t get to binge watch them as much as I used to. But I’ve kind of been going through a phase of catching up on lots of different BBC police dramas. I’m not quite sure why suddenly I’ve taken an interest to that, but, yeah, I’ve watched things like Line of Duty, Killing Eve, and actually, yeah, last night I finished Bodyguard, which isn’t… I can’t actually remember when that was on telly. It was probably a couple of years ago now.

But, yeah, they were all pretty good, actually. Jodie Comer who plays the female assassin in Killing Eve, she’s brilliant. That was very entertaining. So that one I would definitely recommend. But now I have to find a new obsession because, as I say, we finished one last night. So we’re now like, “Right, that one’s ticked off the list. What’s next?” And there a list of no end of series to watch.

Jack:

Great. Well, thank you very much for joining me on the podcast today. It’s been, yeah, loads of great stuff in there and I think a really good conversation, and, yeah, I really appreciate you coming on.

Emma:

No, great. It’s really good. I enjoyed thinking about remote working, actually, because I haven’t thought about it probably as much as I should, considering how globally spread the organisation is. So, no, I really enjoyed it. Thanks, Jack.

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