Want to know what the great workplaces of the future are going to be like? On April 13, 2018, a group of Human Resource Development and Human Resource Management students, along with employees from Shell and Strategic Ascent, got together to determine what the next great workplaces will be like and how they will work.

Strategic Ascent’s Student Dialogue on Creating Great Workplaces set out to determine the qualities of ideal workplaces, including which were the priorities. We also visualized what these workplaces would look like and considered how such workplaces would be feasible for companies.

According to the dialogue participants, the top qualities desired in the workplace, in addition to a competitive salary, are:

  • Work / Life Balance: Reasonable flexibility in the work schedule, including remote working, along with rules and accountability to ensure the work gets done.
  • Vacation Days: Paid time off given in lump sum at the beginning of each year (not accrued) and holidays respectful of cultures.
  • Mental Health Focus: Encouragement of mental health and paid support programs.
  • Clear Diversity and Inclusion: A culture respectful of all differences that properly embraces and utilizes diversity, along with appropriate organization structures to ensure inclusion is maintained.
  • Professional Development Opportunities: Growth and progression plans, training, mentoring, and tuition reimbursement.
  • 401K Matching and Insurance

The participants also stressed the need for:

  • Trust, honesty, and transparency
  • Greenspace and the ability to work outdoors
  • Controlled lighting – natural and artificial
  • Workspace ergonomics
  • Flexible and dynamic workspaces
  • Parental leave, including for adoptive and foster parents
  • On-site services, such as clinics, daycares, stores, and gyms
  • Collaboration and synergy
  • Clear avenues to file grievances
  • Philanthropy and environmental stewardship

Creating Great Workplaces is an ongoing project Strategic Ascent is conducting to determine how to design workplaces that will attract and retain talent in a framework that makes sense for businesses. So far, in addition to the dialogue, Strategic Ascent has sponsored five class projects from two universities to explore this topic. In the future, in addition to working with more university students in class projects, Strategic Ascent looks forward to hosting dialogues between students, experienced professionals, and topic experts to explore workplace topics in depth.

A dialogue is a facilitated process where people from a variety of perspectives discuss and build new understandings around controversial topics. Through exploration of different questions, challenges, values, beliefs, and aspirations, we hope to find better and more realistic solutions. The Creating Great Workplaces dialogues are the first of what we hope will be many dialogues to explore challenging topics.


Strategic Ascent, a division of Clancy Learning LLC, is a Houston training company.
Established in 2000, Strategic Ascent is a strategic organizational learning design company consulting with large and small organizations across many global industries on training and human resource development projects to help them improve their organizational results.