Widespread remote working could lead to more prejudice

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·2-min read
A woman using a laptop on a dining room table set up as a remote office to work from home. Workers told to self-isolate due to coronavirus will receive sick pay from day one, the Prime Minister has announced, as England's Chief Medical Officer warned that a UK epidemic is now "likely". PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 4, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
The study found that three-quarters (76%) those who work in shared offices were in a ethnically diverse setting but that unemployed people were 37% more likely to only have friends from their own ethnic group. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

Working from home could lead to a rise in racism and prejudice, a new report has warned.

The study by polling firm Survation for the Woolf Institute — which researches interfaith relations — said that workplace friendships are vital to breaking down misconceptions and that more people are at risk of going “ back into isolated silos” when working from home, the BBC first reported.

It suggested that three-quarters (76%) those who work in shared offices were in a ethnically diverse setting but that unemployed people were 37% more likely to only have friends from their own ethnic group.

Ed Kessler, founder of the Woolf Institute, urged ministers to focus on workplaces as a vital area for improving community relations. The study surveyed 11,701 workers across England and Wales between 29 March and 5 April.

In terms of people’s opinions on diversity, figures revealed that while nearly three-quarters of non-black or non-Asian respondents were comfortable with a close relative marrying a black or Asian person (74% and 70%), less than half (44%) said they were comfortable with the idea of a close relative marrying a Muslim person.

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The study also found that diversity of friendships and colleagues varied across the country.

Those living and working in the north-east of England are 150% more likely to have only British friends and 68% more likely to have only British colleagues, compared with people in London.

In September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 1 in 5 people (20%) in Britain were still working from home full-time as the economy reopened. However, these numbers have risen again dramatically since the UK went into its second lockdown.

The ONS also previously showed that the UK saved £157bn ($207bn) over the three months of full lockdown this year, with the average UK employee being about £495 a month better off working from home.

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