If someone had told me 6 months ago I’d be writing an article discussing the pros and cons of Pokemon in the workplace, I’d have laughed. Scratch that, I would have guffawed.  As someone who purchased a custom acrylic wall-hanging case to house my best baseball cards and original Star Wars figures, I know what it’s like to be a hardcore fan of a franchise or sports team.

However, other than mourning the previous night’s loss or the (un)likelihood we will end up in the playoffs, my hobbies and professional life have rarely intersected. Pokemon Go fans cannot make the same claim. Of those polled in a recent study conducted by Inc.com, “69% of users play at work,”one-third of them playing for more than an hour.

This leaves management with a decision to make: should Augmented Reality games, or any other games for that matter, be allowed in the office?  In its defense, Pokemon Go is an excellent solution to the ever-increasing stress level many employees face. At a time when we are literally always on thanks to smartphones and the expectation of 24/7 accessibility, allowing employees to step away from their desks for short bursts of time might be just what the doctor ordered.  In addition, companies who push collaboration and teamwork should be happy to see teams working together to find the nearest Pikachu. Employees are not the only ones playing during work hours. Management themselves have been seen cruising the halls, noses buried in their phones… and they are not checking their email.

On the other hand, do employees need any more distractions to pull their focus from their job? Because the user has to keep his phone open at all times, there is a high probability that work product will be negatively impacted. Lynn Taylor, national workplace expert, and author, says,

“As if the endless barrage of apps, texts, social media pings, viral videos, and selfie opportunities were not enough distraction for the average worker, ‘Pokemon Go’ has all the trappings of mega distraction that currently trump many other tech distractions: sociability; portability; mystery, fantasy, and escapism; highly personal; accessible; humorous… all the attributes that can easily lure people away from getting their work done.” 

Some companies have already established Pokemon No rules. In a memo that recently went viral, one manager writes, “We are paying you to work, not chase fictional video game characters with your cell phone all day. Save it for your break time or lunch. Otherwise, you’ll have plenty of time unemployed to ‘catch them all.’” While others are allowing the game to be played on company time as long as it is within reason and not negatively impacting productions.

The shelf-life of Pokemon and other Augmented Reality games remains to be seen. However, these initial findings cannot be ignored. While creating common ground for employees and management to engage and encouraging physical activity throughout the workday, these games also usher in a multitude of cons. In a world with an endless list of distractions at our fingertips, do we need one more? Unlike its sheep-throwing and candy crushing predecessors, Pokemon Go takes employees away from their desks and responsibilities. Lastly, do managers need another area in which they are expected to monitor their employees- many of whom complain about excessive micromanaging and the lack of autonomy they experience at work?


What do you say: Pokemon Go or Pokemon No?