Pokemon In the Work Place?

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My son was pacing the room like an expectant father, muttering to himself about an egg he was hatching. Like any concerned parent I asked what on earth he was doing and why didn’t he go outside and play. It would appear that I simply “don’t get it”. “It” being Pokémon Go, the latest augmented reality game that is taking the world by storm.

Without wishing to sound like the famous judge that asked “who on earth are the Rolling Stones?” I decided to make some enquiries of my own into the Pokémon phenomenon. Pokémon Go uses Google Maps to integrate the real world within its virtual universe. Users take the role of a Pokémon trainer catching Pokémon monsters by exploring the real world, with specific in-game rewards.

So far so simple, but the more I looked into the game the more I wondered what the possible legal implications of it could be? There are the obvious privacy/trespassing issues – Niantic, the creator of the game, is already facing a lawsuit from a disgruntled individual who believes the game has been a detriment to his quality of life with Pokestops and Pokegyms being on his property without his permission with the result that strangers have been onto his property and trespassed on his land. But my research also highlighted that the addictive nature of Pokémon Go can potentially have an impact on productivity, with employees being glued to their smart phones and taking long lunches in the search for Pokémon monsters rather than doing the jobs they are paid for? So, if this is happening in your business what can you do to minimize the impact?

An outright ban is not the solution and would probably only make the position worse, leaving aside the issue of how you police any such ban. It may be that your business provides staff with mobile devices and so your mobile device policy is worth reviewing. This should limit the private use of any device and also restrict what can and can’t be downloaded to it and so a gentle reminder to staff about any such policy would be a good idea.

This doesn’t stop staff still using their own devices and if that is the case I would suggest that the business tries to make a positive out of the situation and designates certain times in the week when the game can be played and perhaps uses that time to bring staff together and disseminate information about the business and build a stronger team ethic.

If after all that, certain staff’s performance is suffering then there is no choice but to speak to them about that and, if Pokémon Go is at the heart of the problem, this needs to be specifically raised with that individual.

But the one thing to bear in mind is that the nature of phenomena like Pokémon Go is transitory and so things will soon get back to normal – until the next augmented reality game takes off!