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Is your workplace a Pokémon hotspot?

It is more than likely that everyone by now has heard of the latest craze that is Pokémon Go! Wherever you are, it is almost certain that you will have seen people of all ages glued to their mobile phones partaking in a hunt for virtual Pokémon creatures.

The app has millions of addicted users and has made an estimated $200 million in just one month! Using “augmented” reality to create the virtual hunt, users can find Pokémon hiding just about anywhere; in their house, on a train, in a restaurant or at work…

This new fad is more than likely to result in an increase in employees using their mobile phones at work and don’t be surprised if you find an employee standing in the store cupboard shouting something about a Pikachu.

However, on a serious note, Pokémon Go! has the potential to have a detrimental impact on businesses if not handled effectively with risks including health and safety hazards, performance problems and data protection issues.

Health and Safety

The app is apparently so distracting that people are sustaining injuries while absorbed in the game with media reports of with users crashing vehicles or walking into oncoming traffic. This can be a significant concern for employers who have staff driving or working with machinery. If driving or operating machinery is part of the business, most employers will have a policy setting out what is prohibited. If so, employers should remind employees that the use of any hand-held device while driving or operating machinery is strictly prohibited.


Employers may see a lack in productivity or employees taking more breaks and extended lunches as they are busy hunting for fictional characters when they should be working. Performance issues are a legitimate concern for any business and employers should make their expectations clear by setting out what is and what is not acceptable. If the organisation has an IT and social media policy, use this to remind employees of the standards expected and the consequences of non-compliance.

Data Protection

Employers should be aware that the app potentially allows third party access to data and possible phishing emails and malware to enter the business systems. This will be a significant concern for businesses whose employees have installed the app on business devices.


As the Pokémon phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down it is important for organisation’s to clearly set out the expectations and standards required of employees. Now is potentially an ideal time to review and remind employees of any workplace IT and social media policies. Usually, policies are non-contractual and can be varied by the employer unilaterally so it may be worth considering some of the following:

  • Prohibiting the downloading and playing of games on devices owned by the business;
  • Prohibiting the playing of games during work time;
  • Expressly prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while driving or in hazardous areas.

Communication will be key and by ensuring that employees are aware of the relevant policies now will be of assistance if problems arise in the future.

If you would like to speak to us about workplace policies, please feel free to email us  or contact us on 0191 282 2880 for a no obligation chat.

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