How HR can turn the Pokémon GO craze to their advantage

Now that Pokemon GO has been out for a few weeks, and reached over 100 million downloads worldwide, it seems that the hype is not slowing down anytime soon. At 33 minutes and 25 seconds per day (on average), iPhone users are spending more time on Pokémon GO than Facebook, twitter or Instagram.

With so many articles about how/where to catch Pokémon and the negative/positive effects they’re making to the world of work, we thought we’d bring all of those opinions together – and give you our take on how you can make this new craze work for your business.

Here’s a round-up of what others are saying about Pokémon Go—and how to deal with it in the office.



Team building/fun

HR has a reputation for being a bit of a kill joy. Now is your chance to change that perception – and help employees bond with each other and with the business in previously unimagined ways! Rather than stamp out our small friends, why not embrace them – but in a responsible way.

Have you heard the conversations across your open plan office? Are your employees comparing their Pokémon experiences? Maybe it’s time to encourage a lunch-time or after-work club to walk around the area. If your offices are in a city, for example, it can be easy to take a quick trip around your local area. Some of the parks—and pubs!—can be big hotspots for Pokéstops and gyms.

There are also professionally lead Pokémon GO walking tours in cities like London, where experienced Pokémon trainers will take you to their secret hotspots.

Exercise and well-being

Wellness is increasingly high on HR’s agenda. Even getting up and taking a walk at lunch isn’t really enough to keep yourself healthy, studies show. “Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent. Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again.” Gavin Bradley says.

Historically, work-led initiatives to get employees to get fit have struggled to get off the ground. From research, it seems that if the Pokémon GO players are now using their lunch breaks to cover the 2, 5 or 10 k required to hatch an egg, maybe it’s good to encourage it —as long as these breaks don’t overrun and interfere with the tasks at hand.


Another concern for many businesses is how to help employees recovering from stress or mental illness re-integrate with work and society. According to reports from the BBC, for people dealing with mental illnesses—such as depression and social anxiety—and autism, the virtual and augmented reality of Pokémon Go has proven to be a great motivator to get them out of the house and interacting with others..

This can easily be translated into cross team communication. Do you have one team that is more introverted than the other? A common interest, like a global phenomenon mobile app can be a great conversation starter.


But what about….

Lost productivity

The problem with augmented reality games, like Pokémon GO, is that they start to become part of one’s routine, and can be hard for someone to turn off. That’s when problems will arise in the workplace.

If you’re noticing more people hunched over their phones (or wandering around with their phones in front of their faces) than usual, it could be time to pull managers to one side and alert them to the possible issues, or remind your employees of the official rules. And If you don’t currently have any HR policies that speak to online/mobile games, it could be time to introduce them.


Some security experts have expressed fears around the the potential security breach Pokémon GO could cause. The game uses a Google account to login to the game. It’s important to make sure that if your organisation is using Google mail servers, your employees haven’t signed up using their work e-mail. This could cause risks to servers or data protection if there was a hack.

The augmented reality portion of the game has also worried some military and government groups around the world, and has most recently been banned completely by Iran’s Supreme Council of Virtual Spaces.


Some of the most concerning stories about Pokémon GO, have been about how the game has led to players becoming victims of crime, or been injured by putting themselves at risk. Accodring to USA Today, there have been press reports of stabbings, robberies and even shootings have all happened to those playing the game. There is also a concern of the risk to children, at the hand of sex offenders.

Playing a game that relies on a player’s full attention while out and about, it can lure them into a false sense of security. Rather than being cautious about getting ones phone out in public, going to less safe areas of town, or travelling alone, the game has the ability to break these barriers down.

In the most recent update of the game, there have been warnings added to remind players that they should not be playing while driving, or trespass on private property in the name of a catch.

Embrace and move on

It’s probably helpful to think of this new obsession in the same ways as you would any other passion – like football and the Olympics. If your employees are real fans, they will find a way to play the game.

It’s obviously important to encourage employees to remember their responsibilities to the business, your customers and each other. But banning it is likely to drive it underground. Much better to find ways to embrace the trend in a way that your company, and individual employees will benefit from.

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