Before I retired I was a freelance sound recordist, and one of the jobs I did was a short film for Railtrack, which included an interview with Gerald Corbett, who was then Chief Executive. We rolled up to Railtrack House, close by Euston, and set up in the board room for our interview. We were told that there would be a short delay and I looked upon this as an ideal opportunity to ask our minder (who was accompanying us) what the state of Thameslink 2000 was. He looked at me with some suspicion and finally came out with the sentence: "Ah. One's got in." This amused me greatly. First was the unspoken assumption that nobody with any interest in railways should be in Railtrack House; and secondly that there should be armed guards to eject any such pollution!
I think its a case of you being there for a certain job and not supposed to deviate from that job, not even with polite conversation.
I was once tasked to work at a NHS office on a short term computer contract but on my first day there the person who was supposed to be giving me my duties was off sick. Apart from the formal confirmation of my name, working hours and being told about fire escapes plus toilet locations nobody spoke to me at all. I had to sit in an office with about a dozen people for a full working day, with nothing to read, no computer to surf online, nothing to do. It was as if I was invisible - or a parked vehicle awaiting its duties, in a sterile, emotionally cold, environment.
It was just as bad - albeit in a different way - at a different NHS place, where I was told by the deputy manager to work with one of the office staff and then (a couple of days later) sacked by the manager for talking with someone (the person I had been told to work with). At the end of the day I met that manager at the bus stop and at least he had the decency to apologise because he had not known why I was talking with someone. But he had to save face so could not rescind his decision to fire me! The only 'good thing' was the trainspotting opportunities on my way to / from that job - stations visited included Paddington, Ealing Broadway and Hanwell.