- Nail Your Dream Remote Role With These Tips from a Canva Engineer
Nail Your Dream Remote Role With These Tips from a Canva Engineer
Considering a remote role — even in another country? A Canva engineer shares what you need to look out for.
I’ve been working remotely since 2020 and loving it. One of the key reasons is because I live with my family in Piha on the West Coast of Auckland — where the locals joke that it’s its own country. When I realised I was thriving with remote work, I knew this was how I wanted to keep working, even when offices around New Zealand opened up again.
So when I accepted my current role at Canva, the chance to keep working remotely was a big draw card. I’m supported to do my best work and stay connected through a travel budget to visit my team in Australia each year and a ‘Vibe & Thrive’ allowance to support my wellbeing, personal education, home office set up, or 1:1 social connections (available to everyone, not just remote Canvanauts). I also have the flexibility to choose my own working hours. That means I’m able to start and finish later in the day to align with my team, giving me time to continue homeschooling my son.
As a working mum, this flexibility makes it much easier for me to fit work around family, rather than the other way around.
I’ve been a Canvanaut for almost a year now, so thought I’d share some tips that helped me make the decision to take on a permanently remote job in a team that’s based in Australia.
Tip 1: Make the most of it if you get the chance to talk to the team leads
I wasn’t proactively thinking about moving from my previous role, so I was fortunate to have time to really think about my next move. I loved my previous job but was curious about what made Canva different.
One of the first people I was put in touch with was Fawaz Ahmah, the Head of Infrastructure at Canva. We had a great chat and discussed Canva’s engineering practices, which helped me understand the technical direction the company was going in. Fawaz was candid with me about where things were at, and the many opportunities Canva’s growth creates.
I learned about Canva’s unique remote work philosophies, which in a nutshell means every Canvanaut only needs to visit their closest hub office eight times a year for company-wide and team bonding events, and is provided a generous travel allowance to support this. I also had the opportunity to chat about what it would be like to have the majority of my team and leads based in Australia, rather than here with me in New Zealand.
I found out Canva’s teams are structured like a mini-startup with the goal of empowering everyone with autonomy and responsibility. That’s quite different from a more traditional and hierarchical structure which can slow down decision-making.
This context helped me understand Canva’s vision, mission, structure and priorities — which ultimately helped me decide to take the leap from my previous role.
Tip 2: Speak to the teammates you’ll be working with
Chatting with your potential team leads can go a long way, but knowing the teammates you’ll be working alongside can be extremely helpful during the decision-making process. So don’t be afraid to ask for a chat with them too. I can guarantee they’ll be up for it!
If you have the time and the opportunity, I’d recommend speaking with a range of people, and preferably a mix of tenure so you get a range of perspectives about the team, its culture, and how things have changed and grown over time.
Here are some ‘green flags’ to look out for during these conversations:
- An inclusive culture where you’re inspired to try new ideas and share opinions openly
- A diverse team that empowers you to take on new challenges
- High-level autonomy where you’re trusted to work independently and collaboratively
- Feeling challenged to learn and grow every day
- Being inspired by the company's mission, values and the ways they’re upheld
Tip 3: Know what you’re looking for
A large part of the process is understanding what you look for in a new job, especially when you’re considering a fully remote position (and even when you’re not!). That’s why it’s so important to know what you need from any new company — whether it’s the flexibility of work, wellbeing balance, culture or something else that’s important to you. Don’t be afraid to ask about those things.
For me, what mattered was the balance between autonomy and wellbeing that Canva provides. This flexibility allows me to work Australian hours. With my team preferring meetings after 10:30am AEST, this means I usually start work at 12:30pm NZT, giving me time in the morning to head outside for some exercise with my son — whether it’s a morning surf, a bush walk to the local waterfall or a game of tennis at the court down by the beach.
Everyone’s career journeys and needs are different, but I hope these three quick tips have been helpful for anyone considering a potential job switch or exploring a permanently remote role. I’m personally so grateful to see the remote working revolution, which provides anyone, anywhere with the opportunity to do the best work of their lives.
If you’d ever like to have a chat or hear more about what it’s like to work permanently remote, feel free to reach out.