Photo: Zanariah Salam/

Wednesday 27th July 2016

Catch 'em all

Do you need a Pokémon Go policy?

It’s been called part of ‘surveillance capitalism’ by Oliver Stone, ‘un-Islamic’ by Saudi Arabia and ‘inherently shallow’ by Time magazine. But people just love Pokémon Go: it’s being adopted at the rate of four million downloads a day and already has more users in the US than Twitter.

See those people walking around outside, watching the world through their mobile screens? They’re Goers. And if what they’re doing looks dangerous, well, it is.

There’s a growing list of spectacular Pokémon Go related pratfalls, including the Goer who drove into a police car, multiple Goers who have been mugged, Goers in Bosnia who wander blithely through minefields and a Goer in Guatemala who was shot when breaking into someone’s house.

Paman Singh

Paman Singh is a legal advisor at Law at Work. ‘The uptake of the game has been so staggering, and the addictiveness of the experience is so great, that employers may want to revisit workplace policies to prevent a workplace distraction becoming a workplace hazard,’ he says.

Singh suggests possible challenges in the workplace, such as an employee wandering around a warehouse hunting for a Mewtwo or a Snorlax, or a delivery driver deciding to take a couple of detours to ‘catch ‘em’ whilst driving.

‘These may sound like unrealistic scenarios,’ says Singh. ‘But Boeing issued a memo to its workforce banning play during work hours after a member of staff was nearly seriously injured whilst playing the game. Further investigation revealed that the game had been installed on more than 100 company devices.’

Singh suggests that employers should pay particular attention to the following areas.

Playing the game during work

‘Employers may have a policy in place prohibiting excessive device usage and internet surfing. They will also have the right to manage employees whose performance falls due to the game or discipline those who use company time for personal leisure.’

Health and Safety

‘Obviously, playing any game whilst driving is dangerous. If a business has employees who drive during the course of their work, there should already be a policy in place prohibiting the use of mobile devices whilst driving.

‘Players often look at their smartphones while chasing Pokémon. This could cause a problem in a warehouse or on company premises where industrial machines are used. Employees should be made aware that they are expected to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Even if they’re off the clock, they should bear in mind the company’s Health and Safety policy.’

Phone Policy

‘The app allows you to see and catch Pokémon with a phone’s camera, integrating the real world with the virtual world. This may sound harmless when taking a picture of a cartoon animal in a park, but things may get a little more complicated if an employee takes a picture of a Pokémon they caught in the boardroom and posts the picture on Facebook.

Hells Angels live here
Hells Angels live here. Not Pikachus

‘Many companies prohibit photography in the workplace and colleagues may not take kindly to being part of a co-worker’s Pokémon collection. Furthermore, a Pokémon hunter walking around the workplace looking at the camera will be disruptive and could make some co-workers uncomfortable, feeling they are being recorded.

‘Also, it might not project a professional image of the company to any clients who happen to be on site, particularly if an employee brushes past them on a hunt.’


‘’These are hotspots where players can replenish their stash of supplies. An employer’s premises might have the dubious honour of being a Pokéstop, meaning that employees may come in whilst not on shift, or even bring children with them out of hours.

‘It may sound unrealistic, but so far players have found Pokéstops in a cemetery, a Hells Angels club and a Holocaust museum. Pokéstops appear to be generated at random: therefore employers should make clear whether off duty access to company premises is permitted as well as clarifying any rules on bringing children to work.’







About the author

Andrew Baird

Andrew is the CEO of HRville. He is also Employer Brand Director of Blackbridge Communications, Editorial Director of Professionals in Law and an associate of The Smarty Train. Previously, he was the MD of TCS Advertising.