Youths play with the Pokemon Go app on their smartphone. Millions of users have already downloaded the game, which requires users to catch on-screen pokemon characters using their real-world location. Shares in the gaming company Nintendo jumped by nearly a quarter following the app success.
Mehdi Chebil—Polaris/Newscom
By Chris Morris
July 11, 2016

There’s nothing like a break from the day-to-day routine at your office. And the sudden, phenomenal popularity of Pokemon Go offers a nice respite. (Yes, you can admit it.)

The app, which debuted on July 6, is already bigger than Tinder and is closing in on the same number of daily active users as Twitter.

For the uninitiated, here’s Pokemon Go in a nutshell: It’s a virtual scavenger hunt, letting players hunt for 151 different characters on their phones using augmented reality. In other words, rather than sitting on the couch and collecting the characters, players now explore the real world with smart phones and find them at coffee shops, grocery stores – and even their jobs.

And while no one expects the game to cause a breakdown in the work scene, human resource managers could be facing some headaches over the next few weeks, say workplace experts. (One photo that has already gone viral purports to show a boss getting frustrated with Pokemon-obsessed employees.)

“It might have a short term impact, but I think most employees who care about their work first will keep it limited to the time they have off,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.”

“If it eats into their time at work, they know that’s going to catch up with them and they’re going to face an unhappy boss or coworkers who are counting on them,” Taylor says.

That’s likely true, but at present, there’s a lot of euphoria surrounding Pokemon Go – and people are quite happy to shrug off some responsibilities.

Like Words With Friends, Pokemon Go is a game that encourages obsessive behavior. And avid players are spending a LOT of time with the app. (One Twitter user said their typical 30-minute walk to work took 90 minutes today.)

Despite the large number of time-sucking mobile games that have come up over the years, though, there hasn’t been any hard research into their financial impact on the workplace. (March Madness, for comparison, results in a work slowdown that works out to $1.3 billion per hour, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Cyber Monday losses are a much smaller $450 million.)

But, as with anything, say experts, the real impact for workers will depend on their will power.

“It’s personality based, but people get addicted to some of those games,” says Lynne Sarikas, workplace expert and director of the MBA Career Center at D’Amore McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. “It’s amazing the compulsive way in which some people play them. … Like most things in the workplace, if it’s that healthy mental break, who’s going to argue with that? But for some people, it’s hard to know where to draw that line.”

A number of businesses are making the most of the craze, though – in a variety of ways.

Some are taking a hard-line approach, such as the Dairy Queen in this image, posted by a user on Neogaf, which posted a sign on the door reading “Pokemon are for paying customers only.” Others, like Utah’s iconoCLAD consignment store, are using the player excitement to lure in potential customers.



Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, meanwhile, is finding Pokemon Go is a great way to showcase its collection to the general public.

“As general admission to Crystal Bridges is free, it will cost you nothing to visit the Museum and rack up your Pokemon captures, and you can enjoy some terrific American art as you go,” the museum says. “We only ask that you be careful and be aware of your surroundings as you do battle so you don’t inadvertently back into an artwork or trip up a fellow museum-goer.”

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