Pokémon Go has reached the UK and is THE mobile gaming app of the moment. How should employers manage Pokémon Go in their workplaces?
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game, that challenges users to find and catch Pokémon characters in their real world surroundings.
The official Pokémon website explains: “As you move around, your smartphone will vibrate to let you know you’re near a Pokémon. Once you’ve encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smartphone’s touch screen and throw a Poké Ball to catch it. Be careful when you try to catch it, or it might run away!”
“Everyone seems to be going Pokémon Go mad!” says Matthew from Consensus HR. “I recently read that the owner of the local garden centre was concerned due to their business being shown on the program.
“They were experiencing a number of people visiting their centre and not looking where they were going in their busy car park, causing accidents. This problem is literally world-wide thanks to the popularity of this game!”
So how are businesses adapting to this new gaming app & should they?
Playing Pokémon Go vs. Working
CIPD reports that the take-up Pokémon Go has been so remarkable – and the experience of playing it so immersive – that employers may need to revisit their policies to prevent a productivity glut. Boeing has become the first business to ban it at work.
Its article states that: “Aircraft manufacturer Boeing was forced to issue an email to its workforce banning play during working hours after the company discovered the game app had been installed on more than 100 work phones since its release. A member of staff also came close to injury while playing the game at work.
There are potential upsides to the new craze. Pokémon Go players are walking miles at a time as they search out characters, and reporting positive effects on their health. Reports from the US suggest autistic children benefit from the interaction and socialisation encouraged by the game.
However, Tom Currie, a barista and bartender from New Zealand, showed the potential for the game to reach extremes when he became the first person to quit his job in favour of a full-time bid to ‘catch ‘em all’. The BBC reported that Currie had already caught 91 of the 151 Pokémon available in the game.
Some employers are taking a more light-hearted approach to prohibition. An image that went viral on Twitter recently showed an internal memo at an unnamed company, which read: “We are paying you to work, not chase fictional videogame characters with your cell phone all day. Save it for your break time, otherwise you’ll have plenty of time unemployed to catch ‘em all.”
Matthew from Consensus HR says: “It’s easy to see why this phenomenon is currently causing problems for employers.”
“This situation needs to be managed correctly as with all social media and use of mobiles devices in the workplace. We encourage business owners to have a comprehensive telephone & social media policy in place that is followed by all. We also suggest that mobiles and tablets should be kept in a secure environment whilst at work. If an employee’s role requires him or her to have one at hand, then misuse could be classed as abuse of company property. This is when efficient contracts and disciplinary procedures are essential.”