How To Keep Pokemon GO From Affecting Productivity In Your Office

In the last week Pokemon GO fever has swept Australia, causing Pokefans all over the world to take to the streets, drain their phone batteries and their data and generally get more exercise than they will have had in years. The game is also a huge time-sink, however — and considering how many Pokemon-attracting lures are being placed around office buildings, it’s one that’s happening in work hours.

Are your employees wasting their time chasing Pikachus instead of doing work? Considering the addictive nature of Pokemon GO (trust me, I know), banning the game outright might just lead to sneaky tactics as your employees try to play behind your back. A passive aggressive letter like this one currently making the rounds probably won’t foster much goodwill within your office either:

If your office has a Pokemon GO problem, here are some ways to manage it without putting down the hard ban.

Create A Policy

While this isn’t Pokemon GO specific, a device policy can help you manage your team’s usage with solid rules and guidelines. This also means that when an employee’s device usage becomes unreasonable, you have a solid framework with which to address it. IT Manager Daily lays out an example personal device policy here, and while it includes numerous aspects of workplace device usage from security to reimbursement, it’s the ‘Acceptable Use’ section that is relevant to the Pokemon GO afflicted:

•The company defines acceptable personal use on company time as reasonable and limited personal communication or recreation, such as reading or game playing.

The policy also has a section on whether cameras are allowed to be used in the office. If your workplace deals with sensitive documents or data, you may have a ‘no cameras’ policy implemented, such as this one Reddit user who got himself into hot water playing Pokemon GO in AR mode. If this is the case, it could be worthwhile pointing out to employees that Pokemon GO’s AR mode is counted as using a phone camera, and should be disabled if the game is being played in the office.

Look At Performance Instead of Screen Time

The above policy mentions ‘reasonable and limited’ time at work can be spent playing games, but what is counted as reasonable? We recommend looking past the amount of time an employee spends in game and instead looking at their performance. If their performance is lagging — and especially if that drop in performance has come after they picked up the monster-collecting game — it’s definitely worth having a chat with that employee and flagging their use of the game as a potential problem.

If performance remains at a high level despite playing Pokemon, however, perhaps you should leave it. Most high-performers in an office should be trusted to manage their time efficiently, and whether they’re using their spare minutes to swipe through Facebook or to swipe a couple of Pokeballs at a Charmander. Identify flagging performance before you look at those who visibly seem to be playing the game often, and consider this your most important problem to address.

Communicate Priorities And Deadlines

Studies have shown that many employees waste time on their devices or on personal internet usage because they don’t have enough to do — whether this is true or not. People can often meander when they have no set tasks and priorities, and this may be leading to a lot of time spent playing Pokemon GO.

This ties in with the point above — set clear tasks and priorities for your team, whether this is at the start of each day or at the start of each week, and set clear deadlines even when tasks are not pressing. While employees will probably still end up playing the game in their downtime, it’ll be much more likely that their downtime actually is downtime if they can check off their days work against their prioritised tasks.

Embrace The Game

While the hype will die down soon, many players of the game are still engrossed and quite competitive over Pokemon GO. If people are fighting over in-game gyms in the evenings at home, chances are they want to use the day to catch more Pokemon and level up. This is the most common mindset of Pokemon GO’s most obsessive players, and the ones who are likely to waste time at work.

Instead of denying them this chance, however, you could experiment with encouraging it to happen in the appropriate times for it to happen — during breaks or lunch. If you can spare a few dollars, try setting up a lure (an in-game item that can be used to attract large numbers of Pokemon) for your team in lunch times, before work and after work, especially if it’s used as an incentive for productivity.

If you have many people in the office playing, you could even hold a small competition to see who can catch the most Pokemon during their set lunch break. By promising an opportunity to catch lots of Pokemon and level up in the acceptable times for it, workers will be less likely to try and sneak in an advantage at any moment they can.

Have you had to take measures to manage Pokemon GO in your workplace? What tips and tricks do you have? Let us know in the comments!

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