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“Capturing” the Affect of Pokemon Go in the Office

This is reality. This is not a test. There are Pokémon in your office. Well, maybe; it's more like there are not real Pokémon chilling outside your door, but more that in an augmented reality there are graphical elements placed within your real world. The thing is, either way, it can result in real productivity drains—likely 151 productivity drains (for those still learning that's how many Pokémon there apparently are to collect), but this blog post will only comment on a few. So let's get to it; while we have all seen people walking around waiving their phones in the air over the course of the last two weeks, have we sat down and considered the implications of this in the work environment?

  1. Integration: There's something fascinating about augmented reality, I mean, look at the image here, I pulled six attorneys away from their desks to "capture" Butterfree (yes there is an attorney hiding behind the Pokémon). Is this a way to bring people together in your organization? Maybe, it brought us together—but there are probably other options to consider. At the same time, I thought starting this post off on a positive note was nice.
  2. Workers' Compensation Claims: On the rise? Maybe; while we have read of injuries sustained while "hunting" Pokémon, the same injuries could clearly occur in the workplace.
  3. Attempts to Gain Access to Secured Space: One never knows where these little guys could be hiding, I mean, there was one right outside my office and I didn't even know it. Doduo or Vulpix could both be hiding in restricted spaces. Reports have shown individuals to climb over fences into restricted areas and disregard warning signs to "capture" Pokémon, the same could be said for your office environment.
  4. Data Breaches: Are your employees playing Pokémon Go on company-owned mobile devices? If so, is that consistent with your electronic use policy? Do you incorporate language in the policy that could restrict the downloading of non-approved apps onto the device?
  5. Non-Disclosure: Could employees' scans of the work environment unsuspectedly be capturing secure or confidential data? If you don't currently have a policy which prohibits the photographing of secure/confidential data, considering instituting one within the parameters of Section 7 of the NLRA, or in the short-term, a reminder email to employees could go a long way.
  6. Guests/Clients: Is your business open to the public? If you've seen a significant influx of individuals wandering aimlessly around your building with their phones out, there may be Pokémon nearby…or you could be a "Pokémon Gym" (a location where players can train their Pokémon) or a Poké Stop (described by some as a treasure chest waiting to be discovered holding potions, pokéballs, and Pokémon eggs—yes apparently you can hatch your own and not simply capture them). Consider policies and practices that limit loitering, or if you are in the retail business, consider the marketing opportunities that could follow.
  7. "Extra Breaks": While many companies will provide for multiple short (less than 15 minutes) paid breaks throughout the course of the day, be careful that 15 minutes don't extend to 20 or 30 while employees are "on the hunt." While not having played myself, reports describe the activity as highly addictive, and one which could take even the best of employees away from their desk for extended periods—be vigilant to guard against extended breaks.
  8. Generation Gaps and Age Discrimination: "What are all these young kids doing"; "That's after my time"; "You kids and your technology". If you haven't heard it yet, I'd be surprised. Watch out for ageist comments if/when discipline needs to occur. The Pokémon Go phenomenon does not appear to be a craze that is demographically limiting its reach to only teens and twenty-somethings, so best practices is to make sure you nip in the bud any ageist comments.
  9. Employee Retention: I kid—kind of. I mean, you have heard about the man who quit his job to become a Pokémon Go Hunter? No? Take a break from your hunt and read about it here.
  10. Hostile Work Environment Claims: This last one may be a surprise, but I have been shocked at how many inappropriate Pokémon jokes are out there. While funny jokes may be out there, A LOT appear adult-orientated. Make sure you remind staff about appropriate (and inappropriate) humor in the workplace.

While partially in jest, it's important to recognize that this craze carries with it a host of issues that could quickly turn into employment law nightmares. For questions about best practices for workplace policies and practices, contact a member of Verrill Dana's Labor & Employment Practice Group. For tricks and tips on best practices for capturing Pokémon, we're going to have to direct you elsewhere.

Topics: Age Discrimination, Data Security, Hostile Work Environment, Integration, Technology, Workers' Compensation