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

A concoction of peer pressure + tradition

I went to check my inbox last week, and I was disappointed to find that, although I had received many work emails, none of them were the message I had been waiting for from The National Lottery congratulating me on my win. Unfortunately, this means I will be returning to work this week, unless we got extremely lucky at the office and scooped the big prize!

Talking about the syndicate, there are regular contributors to the weekly gamble who only take part because they do not want to be the only one left out in the office. Most have no desire to be a part of the regular lottery as they are fully aware that they are 15,000 times more likely to win an Oscar than a share of a multi-million payout.

Although this sounds like a strange reason to contribute your own money, it is one I completely understand. What if the one week you decide not to cough up your hard earned cash – or worse, forget to pay – is the week your office wins a “life changing” amount? As lovely as it would be if your colleagues did take pity on you in this unfortunate situation, it’s unlikely. Much more likely you won’t hear from most of them again.

The lottery is just one of the many office rituals, like baby showers and Secret Santa, that is quite unnecessary. Why are we forced to buy a present for someone we are only in the same environment as because of our need to work? Let’s be honest, we’d normally avoid the person in question and would do our utmost to avoid making any financial contribution to their collection of naff mugs and chocolate boobs.

So, why do we do it?

The main reason nobody says no to these customs is that everyone, except a (lucky) few, worries about other’s perceptions of themselves. Peer pressure is such a powerful factor in making a decision. What’s worse is that these unnecessary office rituals don’t just involve the occasional contribution of money.

An example is the assumption that, because it is someone’s birthday, they will want to bring a cake to the office with them. Since when was this unwritten rule one which you must follow as soon as you sign a contract of employment? The majority of people I have met would rather celebrate with their friends and family than celebrate with their colleagues! There are also people I have worked with who have young families and just one ‘confectionary delight’ can destroy their carefully planned out weekly budgets, yet they still buy a Colin the Caterpillar cake on their way to work as they must contribute the same as everybody else.

Everyone feels they must contribute the same, yet very few actually want to take part in most of these rituals. Peer pressure is an appalling thing – surely there is a better way?