When you think of the average workplace, what might come to mind are rows of identical desks with people tapping away at computers, and occasional forays to the water cooler to complain about the boss and the stresses of the job. Sound familiar? Canva can’t relate.
The Australian-based company was founded in 2012 by tech entrepreneurs Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams. Currently worth $3.2 billion, Canva creates tools and software that “empower the world to design”, as their mantra goes, and works with clients in 44 countries.
Its head office is in Surry Hills, with a terrace overlooking Sydney’s buzzing CBD, and its work environment is very different from that of most multi-national tech start-ups. There’s an endless supply of Kombucha on tap, as well as cold-pressed coffee, and a fully stocked bar. Three chefs work through the day to provide meals – including breakfast – customised to employees’ liking.
The bar at Canva. (Photo: Ankita Sharma)
Just 26, Perkins is one of Australia’s youngest female CEOs leading a tech start-up worth more than a billion dollars. Liz Mckenzie, the company’s head of PR, says: “We want to make this workplace the place where you can do your best work.
“The idea for Canva’s work environment centres around an easy, hipster café vibe, with soft golden lighting and contemporary jazz music in the background.
“We aim to make employees feel at ease while working and not feel trapped by their workload.”
There’s no mass exodus from Canva at lunchtime, with all the gourmet food on offer. “We’ve cultivated a fusion of work and play in the most seamless way possible, ” says Mckenzie. “We just want everyone to work happily and efficiently.”
Kat Walsh, one of Canva’s gourmet chefs (Photo: Ankita Sharma)
Kat Walsh, one of Canva’s chefs, is part of the kitchen team providing meals throughout the day, from breakfast to dinner. “Working here is every chef’s dream job, because of the connections and interactions I make on a daily basis,” she says.
Canva’s staff are culturally diverse, able to communicate in just about any language that international clients prefer. Their many different origins and backgrounds are celebrated, labelled on a large world map that hangs on one wall.
Map showing the diverse countries from which employees hail (Photo: Ankita Sharma)
Canva’s inclusive culture extends beyond countries and languages. In acknowledgement of the company’s LGBTQ+ employees, facilities such as toilets are labelled for their features, rather than being designated for men or women.
LGBTQ+-friendly amenities (Photo: Ankita Sharma)
Vibrant artworks cover the walls on every level of Canva’s offices, to eliminate the monotony of the typical office environment and, as Mckenzie describes it, “to stimulate creativity and make our offices one that employees look forward to arriving into”.
Vibrant walls to promote creative thought (Photo: Ankita Sharma)
New employees have metallic blue Canva balloons floating above their desks, so that colleagues can recognise people who might need mentoring and friendship.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, dogs and other small pets are welcome in the office. Canva even provides play spaces for employees’ furry companions.