The design team at Morgan Lovell bemoan the effect of peer pressure on our perpetual office ‘traditions’.

A blend of peer pressure and tradition

When I checked my inbox last week, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Amidst the barrage of work emails, there was no sign of the message I had eagerly anticipated from The National Lottery, congratulating me on my big win. Alas, it seems I'll be returning to work this week, unless, by some miraculous stroke of luck, our office managed to scoop the grand prize!

Speaking of our syndicate, there are regular participants in our weekly gamble who only join in to avoid being left out in the office. Most of them have no real interest in playing the lottery, well aware that their chances of winning a share of the multimillion-pound jackpot are 15,000 times slimmer than winning an Oscar.

While it may seem peculiar to contribute one's hard-earned money for such a reason, I completely understand. What if, by some twist of fate, the week you decide not to chip in or worse, forget to pay, happens to be the week our office hits the "life-changing" jackpot? As much as we'd hope for our colleagues to show sympathy in such an unfortunate scenario, it's unlikely. More probable is that most of them will go radio silent.

The lottery is just one among the many unnecessary office rituals, like baby showers and Secret Santa, that plague us. Why must we feel compelled to buy a gift for someone whom we only interact with because of our shared workplace? Let's face it: under normal circumstances, we would likely avoid such individuals and go to great lengths to avoid contributing financially to their collection of tacky mugs and novelty chocolates.

So, why do we continue to participate?

The primary reason nobody dares to decline these customs is the fear of others' judgment, with only a fortunate few exempt from its grip. Peer pressure exerts an incredibly powerful influence over our decision-making. What's worse is that these superfluous office rituals entail more than just occasional monetary contributions.

Take, for instance, the expectation that the birthday person should bring a cake to the office. Since when did this unwritten rule become a mandatory clause upon signing an employment contract? Most people I've encountered would rather celebrate their special day with friends and family, not their colleagues! Moreover, some co-workers have young families, and a single sugary indulgence can disrupt their carefully planned weekly budgets. Yet, they still purchase a Colin the Caterpillar cake on their way to work, compelled to contribute the same as everyone else.

Everyone feels obliged to conform, even if they have little desire to partake in most of these rituals. Peer pressure is an abhorrent force—surely there must be a better way?