Is Pokémon Go Going to Cause Headaches in the Workplace?

Posted on August 9, 2016
pokemon go in workplace

Pokémon Go, the latest “must-have” game for smartphones uses augmented reality to create a virtual experience of being a “Pokémon Trainer” and allows the user to capture Pokémon in the real world.  The take up of this game has been phenomenal, with nearly half a million people reportedly downloading the game as soon as it launched in the UK.  This is fantastic news for creators Nintendo and Niantic, but may not be such good news for employers.

As the craze continues to gain momentum, with between 15 and 21 million users on a daily basis, businesses may see a decrease in concentration from their staff.  One company that has already seen the app negatively affect its workforce and subsequently had to ban the app completely is Boeing. They have blacklisted the app after finding it installed on more than 100 work phones and one employee almost getting hurt whilst playing the game at work.

As well as being a health and safety issue in certain workplaces, the app can also cause a potential security issues. This is most likely to be true for companies that work with sensitive client data, one Reddit user who described himself as a “23-year-old employee in a Banking/IT company” explained that his iPhone was confiscated by company officials due to the fact that when you “capture” the Pokémon, you take a photo of the area it was in. When he explained that he was playing a game and not taking photos of client data he was given back his phone, after being given a “nice warning” from his managers about not using the app in work.

The final and possibly the biggest “threat” facing companies with Pokémon playing employees, is the potential decrease in productivity. The Pokémon can appear at any time and so in order to play the game, users must keep the app open at all times, this could tempt them into checking the app regularly throughout the day and ultimately see them dropping work duties in favour of playing the game.

So what can Employers do if they are concerned about employees playing Pokémon Go at work?

Quite simply, review your social media, social networking and mobile phone policy in your Employee Handbook and remind staff of these policies.

If there is a genuine health and safety risk, the employer could be liable without the correct policies in place. So if your company operates within an environment that is not suitable for “wandering Pokémon Trainers”, such as factories or building sites, it would be wise to operate a no-tolerance blanket ban of the app when employees are at work.  Again this would be suitable for working environments where client confidentiality could be breached or sensitive data is being stored.

If your employees are issued with company phones, then your IT department should have control over the apps that your employees download or purchase. If you see a rise in data costs on your corporate phone bill or if you want to prevent a potential rise in cost, it may be wise to prohibit Pokémon Go on work phones.

If you don’t issue company phones to your employees and there isn’t necessarily a security or a health and safety risk, you may want to create a policy that during working hours Pokémon Go should not be used, but at lunchtime employees can access the app. However, you may want to make it clear that when on lunch employees must vacate the building to use the app. By doing this you are allowing your employees freedom to enjoy the game, encouraging exercise and also giving them the opportunity to socialise with their fellow Pokémon playing colleagues, but you are making a clear statement that the office is a work space only.

Speak to an expert today

Share article