Why we value strong, human relationships at Canva
  • News
  • Why We Value Strong, Human Relationships at Canva

Why We Value Strong, Human Relationships at Canva

A glimpse into the importance we place on strong, human relationships at Canva.


Starting anything new is usually pretty daunting. Whether you’re a graduate or have been in the workforce for a while, starting a new job is generally quite daunting. When you step through those shiny new doors (whether real or virtual) and turn on the laptop for the first time, you’re welcomed by open arms, eager smiles, a new email address and often an overwhelming amount of new information.

In your first few weeks when starting a new job, there are probably:

  • Many documents to read
  • A bunch of new tools to learn
  • Lots of new people to meet and build relationships with (made more difficult at times when you’re onboarding remotely)

So…where do you start?

People learning about Empowering the World to Design

While we know everyone wants to hit the ground running, at Canva, we encourage every newbie to take their time and to really invest in working through our onboarding program. A key part of this is investing time into building relationships with your Coach (what we call managers at Canva), your buddy, your team and other fellow Canvanauts.

How to start building strong relationships

With more and more new Canvanauts joining every fortnight, we’ve built a carefully crafted onboarding program designed to help set our new starters (affectionately known as newbies) up for success.

We know onboarding can be a bit of an overwhelming experience, especially while you’re building new relationships, which is why we place all newbies into cohorts where they get to meet others that are starting at the same time, and going through the same journey. Our onboarding program is a great opportunity to get to know your cohort, even if they’re in a completely different team or location to you — you might end up working together one day!

One of our newbie cohorts at their ‘graduation’ ceremony

One of our newbie cohorts at their ‘graduation’ ceremony

One of our newbie cohorts at their ‘graduation’ ceremony

Aside from your cohort, every newbie is also introduced to their buddy on their first day. A buddy is a seasoned Canvanaut that helps you connect the dots and acts as a bit of a cultural tour guide to all things Canva. While you may be ‘officially’ buddied up for three months, we have seen many people develop long-lasting friendships with their Day 1 buddies, and continue to have regular catch-ups even till today!

Two people working together in our Manila office

As part of the onboarding experience, each Coach at Canva also creates a tailored onboarding plan, which is shared with our newbies during their first week. The onboarding plan includes the history of Canva, insight into our company-wide strategies, information about the team you’ll be joining and a listening tour, where you’re introduced to the people that you’ll be working closely with in your new role.

Listening tours are a great way to soak up context during your first few weeks, and to ask questions about different parts of the company, or what other Canvanauts found helpful when they started at Canva themselves.

An example of the ‘Listening Tour’ section in a Canva onboarding plan

An example of the ‘Listening Tour’ section in a Canva onboarding plan

An example of the ‘Listening Tour’ section in a Canva onboarding plan

We place a huge emphasis on building strong, human relationships at Canva because we’re big on collaborating across different groups, teams, locations. Depending on your role, you could be solving complex problems with the Engineering team in San Francisco one day, and planning a new out-of-home campaign with the marketing team in Sydney the next.

Investing time into knowing your teammates makes the transition much smoother when you’re ready to get stuck into doing the work. Plus, you’ll pick up on invaluable context along the way.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re feeling overwhelmed

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed while you’re learning the ropes. As part of our onboarding sessions, we often talk about ‘imposter syndrome’, which is the bias we’ve all felt about our own skills when starting a new job.

The Canva Newbie Journey

The Canva Newbie Journey

The Canva Newbie Journey

Starting a new role can feel like a rollercoaster – the initial period is often filled with excitement as you get started and meet your team; followed by trial and error as you begin taking on projects and getting comfortable and familiar with new context and tools; before you’re confident and mostly autonomous after ~6 months of learning the ropes.

This transition period is so common that we’ve mapped it out and shared it as part of our onboarding, because we want newbies to know that it’s okay to not feel like you’ve ‘got this’ every day, especially at the start of your Canva journey.

By building strong, human relationships, you’ll be able to better collaborate with your team by reaching out when you need a hand. While we love to set crazy big goals, this will never be at the expense of burnout.

Bring your genuine self every day

The most important part of building strong relationships comes from bringing your full, human self to work each and every day. We encourage everyone at Canva to regularly share their interests, goals and life behind the screen (if they’re comfortable) and ask the same of others — you might end up finding someone with the same interests as you!

Your Canva buddy can help show you the ropes and can also help direct you to one of the hundreds of clubs available. Do you love soccer? There’s a club for that. Do you love bonsai? There’s a club for that. Do you simply love water? You guessed it…there’s a club for that.

An invitation to bonsai club

I hope this gives you a glimpse into the importance we place on strong, human relationships at Canva, and how living out our value to ‘Be A Good Human’ can accelerate your own growth and learning when starting any new job.

P.S – We’re hiring!