The continued prevalence of working from home could lead to a spike in prejudice and racism, warns a new report from the Woolf Institute.
The new study suggests that friendships in the workplace have a vital role to play in breaking down misconceptions, with Institute founder Ed Kessler saying that widespread homeworking risks putting people "back into isolated silos."
The study, conducted by polling company Survation on behalf of the Woolf Insitute, surveyed 11,701 people on the topic of workplace relations and diversity. It found that three quarters (76 per cent) of people who work in shared offices usually work in a setting that is ethnically diverse.
Unemployed people, meanwhile, are 37 per cent more likely to have friends exclusively belonging to their own ethnic group.
The study also found that, while almost three quarters of non-Asian and non-black people surveyed were comfortable with a close relative marrying an Asian or black person, (70 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively), that number dropped to less than half (44 per cent) when asked how comfortable they would feel with a close relative marrying a Muslim person.
'Being Muslim remains a trigger for prejudice'
"The word 'Muslim' appears to trigger more negative sentiment than the word 'Pakistani,'" the report reads. This is "despite the fact that 90 per cent of people of British Pakistani heritage are Muslim."
It warned that, in the absence of alternative settings to offices, the opportunities for people of different religious and ethnic groups to mix will be hugely reduced.
The level of prejudice across English and Welsh local authorities was also estimated by the study, using a technique called Multilevel Regression Poststratification (MRP), which examines the demographics and survey responses of each area.
Any apparent prejudice toward religion could be due to people feeling it is more acceptable to express negative sentiment towards religion than ethnicity, claims the report.
"Being Muslim, in particular, appears to remain a 'trigger' for prejudice, making religion a 'final frontier' for prejudice in England and Wales," the report's author, Dr Julian Hargreaves, said.