Orange says 2010 graduates want flexible work future

With the current crop of graduates bidding adieu to their studies, research commissioned by Orange has unveiled the workplace hopes and aspirations for the class of 2010.

Of the 1,000 university leavers spoken with for the survey, carried out by Redshift in June this year, over half (53%) expected flexible working (meaning either from a location of their choosing or outside of ‘traditional’ office hours) as standard when they begin their jobs, with 69% stressing that the option to work flexibly was important to them.

The top five areas students said were important in their first job included: learning experiences (69%); happiness (58%); flexible working (53%); good salary (51%); great colleagues (43%).

When starting work, this year’s crop has specific expectations of employers. According to the research, access to technology is important, with nearly half (45%) expecting to be able to access email and work files remotely. Businesses need to ensure that the right technology and security measures are in place to support this.

In addition, the significance of physical and social networks to employees is an area which Orange continues to find important to individuals, as an additional 43% feel that access to networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn is key as they begin to build up their contact lists for their professional development. This was first revealed in the 2008 Network Citizens report from Orange, completed in conjunction with think tank Demos.

The findings also show that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among today’s students, with almost one in ten (9%) planning to start their own business straight after graduation. This further reinforces research from Orange’s Entreprenation report, which highlighted Britain as a nation of entrepreneurs, with more than half of respondents (51%) having considered setting up or already established their own businesses.

Max Taylor, director of corporate marketing at Orange, part of Everything Everywhere, said: “Today’s graduates are far more digitally savvy than their counterparts of ten or even five years ago. They expect to be able to work on the move and make use of tools like social media and the internet wherever they are. Enabling this type of working for the new generation of employees coming into the workplace can be a real asset to businesses. They’re already fully conversant with the ins and outs of mobile technology, and should be able to adapt their previous experience to help them out when they start work, for example by doing some quick online research on the way to a meeting or finding a contact in their network who can help them get things done.”

The class of 2010 could be the start of a new generation of employees who work wherever and whenever it suits them. Whilst half (50%) of the estimated 270,000 students finishing university this year will go to a job they have already secured or look for a job when they graduate, an overwhelming 81% of those surveyed don’t necessarily want an office based job. Over a third (35%) will instead continue their studies to gain additional qualifications giving them more of a competitive edge in the workplace.

Taylor added: “In our research, many graduates cited that learning experiences, happiness and flexible working would be more important to them than a big salary. This aligns with our recent Entreprenation research, which found that regular, social, face to face connections with close friends and family are valued highly as workers strive for an improved work-life balance. However, employers can benefit too. In fact, our Connected Britain report estimated that UK businesses could save up to £31.7 billion by helping workers fulfil their ideal work-life balance.”

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