29/7/2016 by Katherine Memery
Over the last few weeks, millennials around the world have been swept up by the Pokémon GO craze and transported back to their childhoods. Using augmented reality, the game is a virtual scavenger hunt where players aim to find and capture 151 characters in the world around them.
While there have been a number of highly addictive gaming fads in recent years, including Candy Crush and Angry Birds, none have been as popular as Nintendo’s latest offering. In the first week of its release, Pokémon GO became the most downloaded smartphone game ever. Even if you don’t play the game yourself, you’ve probably noticed those around you frantically scrambling to catch a Bulbasaur or on the lookout for their nearest Pokéstop.
Unsurprisingly, Pokémon GO has found its way into workplaces across the country. Any app that encourages users to look at their phone, rather than at what they’re working on, is likely to be a concern for employers. It’s true that for some individuals, the game could be a distraction, luring them from away their responsibilities and impacting their productivity. If this is the case in your office, it may be time to gently remind your team of your mobile devices policy. However, most high-performers are able to manage their time efficiently; if an employee is able to maintain their productivity despite playing the game, it may not be a cause for concern.
One perk for bosses is that Pokémon GO is mobile, and requires the user to physically walk around in real life in order to explore the virtual Pokémon world around them. This means it’s not possible for employees to play all day from their desks – although you may find some people taking longer lunch breaks, or venturing out of the office when they would otherwise enjoy their sandwiches at their desk
There are also worries about the security of the game. From an employer’s perspective, it’s important that Pokémon GO is not downloaded onto company devices. Not only will the game eat into your firm’s data allowance, but there have been concerns that related apps contain malware which could potentially cause a data leak situation. What’s more, as the game uses a smartphone’s camera function, employees may accidentally record material that leads to privacy issues or data breaches.
However, Pokémon GO isn’t all bad news for bosses. First of all, the app promotes physical activity. Because you have to get out and explore your local area to find Pokémon, Pokéstops or gyms, many users have reported that they have walked more than they have done in years since they started playing the game. Exercise has been proven to improve workers’ mental health and a physically active employee is likely to be more motivated, engaged and off sick less often.
Not only does it promote exercise, but also encourages players to be social and could build team camaraderie. Employees playing Pokémon GO might find themselves bonding over the goings-on at the local gym and teaming up during their lunch break to try and catch a coveted Dratini. Getting out of the office at lunch for some fresh air and a ‘Pokéstroll’ with a colleague is likely to boost a worker’s mood and productivity throughout the afternoon.
You could even capitalise on this social aspect of the game, and use it as a team-building tool. Designating a time for your employees to ‘catch ‘em all’ together is likely to improve team morale and social engagement within your department. In addition, if an employee knows they have a Pokémon-catching opportunity to look forward to they may be less likely to try and play during work hours.
To make sure you stay on top of the constantly evolving technological world we live in, it’s important to recognise the possibilities that could arise because of augmented and virtual reality. The augmented reality of Pokémon GO has created a basis upon which future technology will develop. It’s possible that similar technologies may result in easier remote working and more creative interaction within your future workforce. Embracing the game that’s captured the imagination of millions will mean that, in technological terms, you stay one step ahead of the competition.
Pokémon GO offers players the chance to escape from the real world and enter an augmented reality. It lets us take our minds off the everyday worries as well as the larger global concerns we face today. When played in an individual’s free time, the game is generally harmless, as long as it doesn’t disrupt their work and they are aware of their environment and the people around them.
How to make the most of Pokémon GO in the workplace
While a workforce completely immersed in the world of Pokémon GO isn’t ideal, if played appropriately, there are a number of ways the game could positively impact your workplace. In short, the game has the potential to make your employees more motivated, less stressed and more social.
However, to make sure that it doesn’t impinge too much on their workload and concentration, it’s important that the situation is carefully managed. Clearly define and communicate your company’s rules on using mobile devices in the office and encourage colleagues to catch Pokémon with their peers during their lunch break to limit use during working hours.
While you may be tempted to ban the game outright, doing this may put you in danger of damaging morale and lead to employees playing the game in secret. Instead, try to look at the positive effects of Pokémon GO and welcome the increased social interaction and improved team spirit workforce it could bring.
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