Should Pokémon ‘Go’ away in the workplace?

So, (in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week) Pokémon Go is a newly released, free-to-play, augmented reality game for Android and iPhone. The game has been somewhat of a global phenomenon, and has got us all out Pokémon hunting with our smartphones in the real world.

Pokemon Go


Currently the top free app in Apple’s App Store; it has proven unexpectedly popular with people of all ages across the world. From those who remember the Pokémon craze the first time around, to today’s children and teens. Even I have been converted – much to some of my colleagues’ surprise. Ordinarily, you would be far more likely to catch me scrolling through my Instagram feed on my lunch break, rather than playing a game on my iPhone. But the past week has seen me draining my phone battery on the hunt for Pokémon creatures – Rattata on my desk, Pidgey in the staff room, Drowzee at the gym. And I know I’m not the only unlikely ‘gamer’ who has been hooked, or at least intrigued to download the game in the first place.

With so many of us joining in on the ‘Pokémon-hype’, particularly millennials, it brings up the issue: should we be playing it in the work place? Clearly we shouldn’t be sat at our desks all day playing a game – we all know that. (And to play Pokémon Go properly anyway, you need to be mobile, it’s not the kind of game that you can really just sit in one place all day and play – therefore the issue of spending all day playing it at your desk isn’t really a reality). But if employees are playing it during breaks, or before and after work, there might actually be some benefits…

Exercise: As most of us know, exercise can improve your general mind-set and thus performance in the work place. In fact, I read an article on LinkedIn just the other day that said: people who exercise on work days are happier, suffer less stress and are more productive. The Pokémon Go game encourages us to get out and about on the hunt for Pokémon critters in the local area as we have to physically walk to the location the Pokémon is hiding in order to catch it. And when we get an egg from a Pokéstop, we’re encouraged to walk 2km, 5km etc. to hatch the egg. So if employees are heading out of the office for a stroll (aka a #PokéWalk) at lunch to see what creatures are hiding in the nearby area, they’re actually getting some all-important fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise; making themselves feel better and perform better when they get back into the office.

Friendships: Just like we’ll ask each other what we did at the weekend, we can now ask our colleagues “Did you catch any rare Pokémon this weekend?” as a conversation starter… As the game encourages us to head out and roam the nearby area; if a colleague and yourself are both playing the game, you might then decide to go for a walk together to get a spot of lunch, and pass the nearest Pokéstop on the way. And if you then form a new bond with that colleague, with whom you might not have spent one on one time with otherwise, then what’s the harm in that?

Distractions have always been there: I totally appreciate that an employer might say “I’m paying you to work, not play Pokémon all day”; but the truth is, we’re all prone to getting distracted to certain degree. That’s nothing new. So whether it’s a creature on your desk in the new Pokémon game that’s momentarily got your attention, a message in your group WhatsApp, or a tea break and a non-work related conversation with a colleague (in my colleague Aimee’s case, her Harry Potter obsession) – we’re going to have moments of the day that we have a short break from our work, and do something else. Realistically, it’s probably going to be a couple of minutes out of the day and then you get back to the job at hand. And in my opinion, anyone not sensible enough to just leave it at that is maybe in the wrong job…

pokemon ban








Recruitment tool (apparently)A colleague of mine pointed out earlier this week that a recruiter on her LinkedIn had written a post advertising a vacancy. On the post they’d mentioned the usual: job title, salary, location, the fact the role had good transport links…oh, and that the company had 3 Pokéstops and a Pokémon Gym within a 5-minute walk… I bet the applications were just flocking in!

Pokemon Go








Blending the digital and real world has given the game massive appeal, alongside the nostalgia the Pokémon franchise brings to some. And although we don’t really need another reason to be stuck to our phones – judging from all the recent stories in the media, the game has clearly had some positive effects, not just for the workforce!

…And at the end of the day, as with most things of this nature, it will blow over. A couple of weeks from now the majority of us that have downloaded the game will find that something else has come along, the novelty has worn off and that the game simply drains too much battery. And it will no longer be an issue at all.

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