Heard enough about Pokemon Go yet?
According to media reports, employers are seeing a dramatic but unsurprising trend: employees are being drawn into the new augmented reality game in the workplace.
In fact, the app seems to be having a serious impact, as Forbes reports that 69% percent of the readers who took the magazine’s informal six-question online poll said they played Pokémon Go at work. Some employers reportedly have banned the app/game, Boeing being the one garnering the most headlines.
The Pokemon Go craze also has some technology experts sending out dire warnings of potential workplace mayhem. According to an article at Multichannel News, the International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM) believes employers must ban the app on any “corporate-owned, business-only” (COBO) phones/tablets or “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) phones/tablets with direct access to sensitive corporate information and accounts.
“Frankly, the truth is that Pokemon Go is a nightmare for companies that want to keep their email and cloud-based information secure,” IATAM CEO Barbara Rembiesa told Multichannel News.
With that, and given the novelty of the phenomenon and its unique combination of virtual and real-world elements, HR leaders and business line managers clearly run the risk of being unprepared to manage workplace game play as well as resulting legal Pokemon Go potholes, according to Philippe Weiss, Chicago-based lawyer at Seyfarth Shaw.
Weiss, who serves as managing director of Seyfarth Shaw at Work, the firm’s dedicated compliance services and training subsidiary, outlines a few of the larger concerns and emerging risk areas based on the experience of some Seyfarth Shaw at Work clients.
Facing and responding to intruder-players (and Pokemon) on company property
Businesses face security, legal and safety risks from public players unfamiliar with your facilities. Distracted players have found themselves locked into warehouses and cemeteries after hours or trampling near sensitive R&D areas. The possibility of a painful death by Pokemon Go play – and by related lawsuits – is not simply hypothetical: already one agricultural business learned that an intrepid player had nearly fallen down one of the company's unused grain elevators while attempting to capture a screeching Golbat.
Risks due to employee play are equally real
One actuarial client reported that a staff member leaned so far out a window (in an attempt to capture a rarely appearing Pokemon in a park below) that he had to be hauled back in by a maintenance manager who thought he may have been intending to jump.
Moreover, if any employees have been recording any of their Pokemon Go play at the office, they may have created potential privacy violations by catching images of customer data or the like – all on your company-sanctioned equipment.
Players' non-stop use of Smart Phones
Weiss reiterates that if Pokemon Go-addicted employees are using company smartphones, chances are they have already violated (by several orders of magnitude) any applicable "limited personal use" restriction contained in your electronic communications policy.
"Time flies as fast as a Pidgeotto” when playing
Clients have reported that over the last week or so that morning lateness is up over 10% among certain employee groups, and that the length of employee absences for breaks and lunches are noticeably extending – all due to Pokemon Go play. Employees easily may lose their sense of time once immersed in such a clearly addictive augmented reality game, Weiss explains.
“One media company received complaints after a salesperson started a customer call by saying, ‘Sorry about the delay in getting back to you, I was catching a Caterpie! You know – Pokemon Go comes first!’” Weiss says.
With those risks as context, Weiss also offers some valuable strategies to safely manage Pokémon Go workplace perils:
Prioritize performance over Pokemon: Start watching employees' timeliness and attendance with greater attention than usual in the coming weeks. Also, follow-up on even small delays in work/task completion, while the Pokemon Go craze is still the flavor of the month. Along those lines, Weiss says pay attention to any employees walking around with gazes fixed on their smartphone screens
Train managers to know when and how to safely tell employees "Pokemon Stop!” And be sure to emphasize that managers not set the wrong example themselves, by playing Pokemon Go during work hours, for instance.
Train on Pokemon Go protocols: Give security people and managers simple scripts to use when they encounter any wandering/errant players. The key is to "respectfully reroute” players, quickly and safely, Weiss says.
Patrol possible player pathways (especially if you have outdoor facilities): Regularly check all doors, gates and access ways to unauthorized areas to confirm that they are effectively secure. And do not leave any hazards exposed. You don't want distracted players falling into a floorboard gap followed by a 30- foot drop to the sub-basement.
Use the power of your HR policies: Remind everyone at work about your electronic device policy and ask that smart phones be turned off at all meetings (“Don't cede your power to the Pokemon,” he says).
“The phenomenon is here for now, but Pokémon Go need not mean that performance stops,” Weiss says.