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Inside Canva’s hybrid world of work

A glimpse inside our hybrid world of work as we strive to build an environment that balances flexibility and connection, underpinned by the importance of inclusion.

One of the questions I get asked the most is how we've built and grown our culture at Canva, especially in a post-pandemic world.

Our team has spent the last decade creating an inclusive culture around coming together to achieve our huge goals and celebrate their impact for our community. We’ve also built much of our culture around what Chris (Canva’s Head of Vibe(opens in a new tab or window)) describes as the feeling you get when you’re “around a communal table”. Coming together to connect, enjoy each other’s company, and feel like you can be wholly your authentic self – whoever you are, and whatever your interests.

Canva team connecting at events and for pride

Then, like everyone else, the pandemic threw a whole new way of working at us in 2020. Overnight, we shifted into a very new gear. Since then we have kept a number of the changes we made during the pandemic, and evolved others, to ensure our culture has stayed strong.

At Canva, we’re continuing to evolve a work environment around the two core pillars we’ve had since our pandemic-work pivot:

Flexibility, connection and inclusion hybrid work pillars

To begin to answer a little about how we’ve evolved our culture, we’ll share some of our learnings, and what’s working best for us, across the balance of flexibility and connection. (It’s important to note that what works at Canva won’t necessarily work elsewhere).

At Canva, we believe strong cultures are driven by a deeply shared mission and genuinely living our values. We are constantly evolving – with every decision, conversation, celebration and policy decision. We recognise that every single person makes our culture.

Fostering flexibility

We’re incredibly excited about the possibilities brought to life by remote work. The ability to work remotely makes it possible for people to build work around their lives, not the other way around. We believe this plays an enormous role in enabling our team to do the best work of their lives.

We also believe a career pathway into tech shouldn’t be determined by proximity to a physical office, and with flexibility in where we work, we’ve been able to continue adding great teammates, perspectives, and backgrounds to our global team.

At Canva we have three categories of working based on what works best for each person and their team:

  • Hybrid: You have the flexibility to work from a Canva campus (office), or from home, however the balance best works for you. There are no company-set days you need to be in the campus, but there are likely team events where you will come to a campus.
  • Permanent Remote: Your main residence and workplace is outside of a distance radius of one of our campuses or hubs. You spend most of your time remotely, while connecting with your team virtually or by occasionally travelling to our physical campuses.
  • Onsite: Due to the nature of your work, you spend the majority of your time at one of our campuses. This includes our hospitality and ground control (facilities) teams.
Two people working from their laptops

Each of our three categories is a different experience: on-site might mean you get lunch cooked by our amazing onsite chefs, but permanent remote might mean you get to live out your life-long dream of living outside a major city while working at a tech company.

Our culture isn’t bound by locations – it’s rooted in our values, our team, and our mission to empower the world to design through our goals that are shared, regardless of where and how you work. Some of us prefer a quieter space to be productive while others draw energy from having people around them, or, most likely, a bit of both. We trust our team to determine the type of work environment that works best for them and their team’s goals, because we believe this enables them to build the best product for our community.

A view of a rainforest with a coffee mug
A person on a couch playing with their child while working
A person cooking while tuning into a meeting from home
People playing cards over a virtual call

The ability to work flexibly makes it possible for our team to design their weeks around what works best for their teams, their families and themselves.

We’ve heard many stories about the positive impact this is having. From ensuring our team who are also caregivers have the flexibility they need, to enabling people to work in environments that feel most comfortable and productive for their personal preferences and needs – especially important for those who have accessibility needs, or increased sound sensitivity, as an example.

Engineer talking about the importance of remote work when you have a family

We also balance this all with keeping our larger teams including product, design and engineering mostly based in the same timezone per team to ensure working hours overlap and our teams have many opportunities to connect so they can do their best work.

Fostering meaningful connections

While we’re embracing working remotely, we believe it’s equally important to build meaningful connections to accelerate collaboration, share learnings, and spark innovation. That’s why we’re striving to build an environment that balances flexibility with moments to connect as a team, group or company around the world.

Creating regular moments where our team has the opportunity to come together and celebrate when we’ve achieved goals, or we’re dreaming big and setting new goals for the future, is an incredibly important part of our connection pillar.

Importantly, connection doesn’t always need to be in person. Like many companies, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the meaningful experiences we want to foster for our team, both in person and online; ensuring that each official Canva space is set up to cater for remote workers dialling in too.

We’re always thinking of new and innovative ways for our team and community around the world to collaborate online. We use our own tools like Canva Docs(opens in a new tab or window), Presentations(opens in a new tab or window) and Whiteboards(opens in a new tab or window) to share ideas and make decisions, and we are also intentionally growing our physical office spaces for our team to use together – recently opening new campuses in London(opens in a new tab or window), Austin(opens in a new tab or window) and Melbourne(opens in a new tab or window).

Physical office spaces with the Canva team eating and at events

With the leadership of our amazing Vibe team, over the last decade we’ve been incredibly intentional about building magical physical spaces for our team including communal areas such as cafes, bars and outdoor areas, along with events, social and fitness clubs as well as volunteering opportunities, all which bring our teams and community together.

This year, despite no strict requirements for our team to work from an office space, we’re seeing our team return to our offices. In Sydney, over half of our team (57%) comes into the office one or more times per week, and a quarter of our team (25%) comes in at least two days per week.

We also aim to be really intentional about ensuring our meetings and events, including Season Openers and Canva Create(opens in a new tab or window), can be accessed remotely and in-person. These events are also always recorded and shared with teams across different time zones.

With Canva’s “remoties” (our fully remote teammates) representing a quarter of our team, we’re always thinking about how we can continue creating a meaningful, engaging and impactful remote culture. To do this, we have a dedicated Vibe team member and a team of “Vibe Allies” in our team who help roll out a number of initiatives for our fully remote team.

A person talking about the importance of a strong remote culture

Some of these recent initiatives include working with our in-house chefs to create an online TV series called Canva Cooking School, hosting seasonal online events, sending at-home wellness kits for Canva’s Global Rejuvenation Day, and featuring a story about a remote Canvanaut through ‘Remotie Spotlight’ in our weekly Canvazine (internal magazine). Each season we also run in-person events across our smaller hubs with the most recent ones including escape rooms, go-karting, and bowling.

One of the initiatives we hear is most impactful for our team is connecting to bring Canva’s value of “Be A Force for Good” to life. Everyone in our team has three days of Force For Good leave per year that they can use to do good in the world – be that volunteering for a nonprofit, or participating in a Force for Good Friday.

Underpinned by inclusion

Underpinning both of our pillars is the importance of inclusion. A truly flexible culture needs to be inclusive of flexibility for everyone, while connection needs to be inclusive of our team’s different preferred ways of working, as well as their lives outside of work.

As one example of this, we’ve spent time looking through our entire employee journey and making adjustments so our team feels connected and included from day one – no matter where or how they work. Our interviews and onboarding are conducted virtually, and we send custom swag packs to newbies ahead of their start date as a warm welcome.

Canva swag pack new team members receive

Beyond this, we’ve also found offering customisable benefits that empower our team to choose for themselves goes a long way. One way we’ve done this is by introducing a “Vibe & Thrive” allowance which supports our team with their home office set-up, professional development, and wellbeing regardless of location.

Whether our in-office team wants to use this allowance for gym classes, or our fully remote team wants to use it to customise their home office – we’ve intentionally designed this with the flexibility for our team to use it in whichever way works best for them.

Computer on desk with a dog
A person painting
Books on a desk
A person working out and boxing

Listening to our team

Throughout all of this, we’re committed to continuing to listen to our team to understand what they need to do their best work and achieve their goals. Our culture is constantly evolving as we grow and learn more from our team, and we’re excited to continue this evolution over the months and years to come.

You can expect to hear more from us about our move to a truly hybrid company and culture. We’ll share our wins and learnings along the way so you can learn more about our experience and initiatives too.

If you’d like to be part of our team as we continue to evolve our culture, visit lifeatcanva.com(opens in a new tab or window) to learn more.

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