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In accordance with a UK research, long-term relocation from dwelling might result in extra prejudice

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With work from home expected to continue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a UK research institute has warned it could lead to heightened prejudice.

The Woolf Institute's study of diversity in England and Wales found that friendships in the workplace are key to breaking down prejudice.

The study, published Monday, interviewed 11,701 adults in England and Wales. It was carried out by the market research agency Survation on behalf of the Woolf Institute, which is a research center.

Although much of the research was done before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Woolf Institute stressed that the results highlighted the importance of the workplace to allow people to mingle with people from different backgrounds.

For example, people who were "economically inactive" were 37% more likely than workers to have only friends within their own ethics group. They were also a third more likely to feel negative about local ethnic diversity.

In contrast, the workplace gave people the opportunity to mix outside of their ethnic group. The study found that more than three-quarters of people in England and Wales worked in locations that were ethnically, nationally or religiously diverse.

After analyzing this research and previous data, the report's author, Julian Hargreaves, concluded that "different friendship groups influence our prejudices more than our prejudices in choosing our friends".

"In other words, when it comes to breaking down prejudice, friendship is important and works," he added in a statement.

With more people likely to continue working remotely in the future, "the workplace as a meeting place for people from different backgrounds will likely be severely restricted," warned the Woolf Institute.

"Without creating alternative opportunities for social mixing, this will … lead directly to an increase in prejudice," he concluded.

Ed Kessler, founder of the Woolf Institute, said that since people are being forced to work from home during the pandemic, there is a risk they could return to isolated silos.

He therefore suggested that creating new opportunities for friendship should be a "key part of public policy".

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Katherine Clark