What’s the secret to a harmonious workplace? Answer: don’t get saddled with with Janice, the intern from hell. It’s not like she’s not good at what she does, or even that she’s a bad person, but she’s just terrible to work with. This is largely because she has zero sense of when to shut up.

This morning, I was assigned to join her in one of the so-called ‘collaborative thinking pods’ – a new (and, to my mind, questionable) addition to the office infrastructure. That basically means being trapped in a small, UV-lit pyramid with Janice while she expresses her excess enthusiasm for the better part an hour. Unless you count me listening under duress and her carrying on ceaselessly about how cool the pods are as collaboration, little was achieved.

Personally, I’m not that into these kinds of office design trends. Sydney tech industry professionals, can you relate? I’m sure some people are into having an onsite jungle gym, a fajita station or a mysterious patch of indoor grass, but I’m of the opinion that they can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Maybe it’s my manager that’s the problem… I mean, I still had the same deadline this morning as I would have had without the pyramid meeting, which doesn’t make any sense at all given that I lost an hour to the annoying interlude. I suppose that’s not the fault of the new office fitout. Sydney workplaces just need to get in step with how these things can interfere with productivity, as well as boost it.  

Back to my original question. I guess the secret to a harmonious workplace is, in fact, nothing to do with Janice specifically. It’s more about ensuring that everyone has an understanding of how interactions between people and their work environments play out. There’s nothing wrong with talkative interns or novel workstations, for that matter, but there needs to be a clear blueprint for making them work in everyone’s favour.