Social mixing in the workplace: a review of existing research

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The Challenge

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The Challenge

Social mixing in the workplace: a review of existing research

This literature review brings together existing academic research on social mixing in workplaces. The collected evidence shows that interactions between colleagues can strengthen bonds between different social groups, and we explore key findings to understand how and under what conditions workplace mixing is effective.

 

This resource is for those interested in methods and conditions for social mixing in the workplace. It details a range of literature which covers theoretical foundations for integration and methods and tools for improving workplace mixing across ethnic groups, generations and socio-economic divisions. Download the report to understand better existing research and the potential for workplace integration going forward.

Summary of key points:

  • Why does the workplace matter for social mixing?
    • Workplace tend to be more diverse than other sites of interaction such as neighbourhoods, so they bring us into contact with people from different ethnic groups, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds
    • We can’t choose our colleagues – so workplaces break the natural tendency to mix with people who are similar to ourselves
    • Workplaces create opportunities for meaningful mixing – we cooperate with colleagues towards shared goals, and over time can develop friendships
  • What do we know from the existing research?
    • When we have positive interactions at work with people who are different from us, it can result in more positive attitudes, reduced prejudice, and higher levels of friendship
    • The quality of contact is important – interactions which are enjoyable, informal, or personal are more likely to have positive results
    • Good relations between colleagues do not always extend beyond the workplace
  • What do we need to understand better?
    • There is good evidence on the effects of workplace mixing on relations between different ethnic groups and generations – but more research is needed into how interactions at work can bridge socio-economic divides
    • How can we encourage interactions at work – what policies, behaviours, and programmes can maximise the potential for mixing?
    • Remote working, the gig economy, and automation are all reshaping the nature of work – what will the changing work behaviours mean for workplace socialising?