Pokemon — workplace go or workplace no?

David Quinn
Jul 27, 2016 · 4 min read

The popular game Pokémon Go has officially reached the UK with the launch of app. I say officially as many ‘early adopters’ have been changing the region settings on their phones to the US or New Zealand just to get their hands on the app, and ultimately get their hands on those Pokémon before anyone else. And when I say popular, I actually mean craze. Apparently, the game has exceeded Twitter in daily active users in the US, and with higher average user time than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram & WhatsApp! Even we at BrightHR have caught the bug with numerous Pokémon being spotted across our office.

It certainly has caught the imagination of many with its use of augmented reality (not a new thing I know, but it’s the first time it’s really gone mainstream) and it has led some to call it the ‘most important game ever made’. It certainly could be a starting point to an augmented reality future. But those waves haven’t just been felt in the technology world, they have also been seen already in the world of work.

Jobs and recruitment

eSports is big business and many people are already making a good living off playing computer games professionally. Don’t believe me? Well according to industry-intelligence firm SuperData Research eSports generates revenues of $748 million and 188 million people already watch. And it’s growing, with estimates of $1.9 billion revenue in just a few years. Want even more proof that eSports is serious? You just have to look at premier league clubs such as Man City and West Ham hiring people to represent them on FIFA16.

Pokémon Go is really the first time gaming and everyday life has intersected. No longer is gaming seen as restricted to a static screen, it’s now becoming immersed in everyday activities and life. Even now it’s creating jobs with some people offering their services as Pokémon Trainers for people who have to go to work, or even as drivers for those who want to find Pokémon outside of their area. It may seem silly now, but if the world of gaming does enter the real world then this will become ever more common.

It’s the same with recruitment, just today I saw a job advertisement here on LinkedIn which included: “Easily accessible on public transport and has an onsite car park — as well as 3 Pokestops within a 5 minute walk and a Pokemon gym”. Again it might seem silly now and the recruiters may just be tapping into the craze to gain attention, but if gaming and real life do intersect benefits such as ‘near a Pokémon gym’ may start to become just as important as other more ‘tangible’ benefits.

Workplace rules — is it time to get real?

The workplace hasn’t really caught up with technology or the changing modern world. Take for example social media, a staple of everyday life for the vast majority of people and the way that many of us communicate on a daily basis with tools such as Twitter, Facebook messenger and WhatsApp. But for many organisations these are seen as open to misuse, a distraction, a waste of employee time and as a result there are rules in place to stop workers using them. It’s a shame really as with a bit of trust and some workplace rules these tools could be used for the good of companies.

With Pokemon Go we’ve already seen this in action with some companies giving explicit warnings to workers about playing the game on company time. However if this is the start of a‘Minority Report’ style augmented reality future, where technology is embedded within glasses (Think Google glass) or even within our own eyes, then how are workplaces going to regulate this? Is it time workplaces started to embrace this technology and culture change as a positive? If they don’t then surely there may be issues ahead.

Can Pokemon Go be a benefit to your work?

As always the negatives of this game have far outweighed the positives in the media so far. But how could you actually turn this into a positive? I’ve come up with some suggestions:

  • Team building / Fun — If there a few Pokemon Trainers in your office why not set up a lunch club where you can go out on a local lunchtime Pokémon hunt, you could even turn it into a competition. It’s a great way to get people from work together and to build those team bonds.
  • Exercise and wellbeing — the stereotype of the gamer is one of a slightly overweight guy sitting on his sofa (usually with a load of snacks) for hours upon hours in front of the warm glow of the television. Not for this game. Pokémon Go encourages you to get out, be active, get fitter and feel better. And the best bit, people don’t realise it’s doing them good! Why not walk to work, if possible of course, picking up Pokémon as you go. If you get public transport or drive why not set off a little earlier, get off one stop before yours or park in a car park slightly further away.
  • Bringing customers in — many businesses, especially shops and restaurants, have been seeing people coming in as there are Pokémon to be found. If you are in that fortunate position why not turn it into an advantage?
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