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Catching Pokémon at Work

There are many people now (especially millennials, but not confined to them) who literally can’t move, live or function without their mobile phone being somewhere on their person. These are the people who are now uttering the current fad phrase: “Are you catching Pokémon?” It sounds like a nasty disease of the spotty disfiguring variety.

Pokémon Go is the latest in a long line of “must do” technical games and has created a storm amongst gamers and non-traditional gamers alike. Described as an augmented reality game for smartphones, gamers are made to roam around capturing and collecting animated characters with a swipe of their smartphones. Reality game? Something involving animated characters? To me it’s about as exciting as playing Snap! while stuck in a caravan on a rainy July day.

Well that’s up to them. Dull world if we all like the same thing etc. So long as it’s legal and doesn’t annoy or endanger other people, gamers are fully entitled to swipe away to their hearts’ contents in their own time.

Predictably some employees are allowing their obsession to seep into their working time and equally predictably this seepage doesn’t go down so well with employers.

Fantastic advances in technology have made possible the unimaginable of a few years ago. But there are pros and cons with everything and amongst possible downsides are time wasting games which have to be managed at work.

Playing games when they should be working reduces productivity. Pokémon Go has become such a problem that aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. has added it to their software blacklist after the game was downloaded on over 100 work phones.

Taking the eye off the hazards in the workplace could also create a serious health and safety risk as employees might be gaming hard, not paying attention and walk into machinery or equipment. There have been a number of instances of near misses as a result of gaming distraction. Pokémon Go should go.

Mobile phones are a fact of life now. Almost everyone has a phone and many employees think it is their human right to carry them at all times and use them for phone calls, messaging, music or games whenever they want. They don’t have such rights and employers have to put down boundaries to make clear what is and what is not acceptable. There is no right for employee to have unfettered access to his or her mobile phone at all times. Many employers require personal mobiles to be turned off, left in lockers or bags. Make sure employees do so. Monitor and enforce as appropriate.

I don’t buy the “there might be an emergency” argument often advanced by phone addicted employees. In cases of unexpected emergencies employees can be contacted via the organisation’s phone system. In cases where an employee anticipates he or she might get a call (for example, a baby is due to be born) consent to carry the phone can be obtained by exception from the line manager. Otherwise personal mobile phones should only be used during break periods and employees should be advised that any inappropriate use may result in disciplinary action.

We deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of HR. If you need help resolving problems with Pokémon Go, mobile phone usage or any other HR issues, give us a call on 01908 262628.

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