Pokémon Go Back to Work!

by Littler

Pokémon Go has taken the United States and the rest of the world by storm, with an estimated 75 million downloads in the first three weeks since its release.1 For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game where users try to capture, train, and battle digitally animated creatures (Pokémon) on their mobile devices.  Because users of the game often look at their phones, iPads, or other mobile devices while moving, there have been well-publicized incidents of injury and death, as well as complaints of trespassing.2  One of the less-discussed impacts of the game, however, is the effect on the workplace and how employers can respond. 

Policies Limiting Play At Work

In response to one Forbes survey, 32% of respondents indicated they played Pokémon Go for more than one hour at work per day.3  When employees dedicate such a large amount of time to a game, productivity is impacted.  Employers seeking to maintain productivity need to review – and possibly supplement – their social media policies to ensure that they prohibit or limit playing games at work. 

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all policy for all workplaces.  The policy that works best will depend on a number of factors, including the culture of the worksite and job duties of the employees in question.  The easiest policy to enforce is a complete ban on playing Pokémon Go and other games in the workplace.  However, if companies are averse to such a ban, they can explore more relaxed policies that allow employees to play during breaks.  Finally, some employers may decide to fully embrace the fad and allow employees to play for set amounts of time outside of normal lunch and coffee breaks.  Employers should keep in mind, however, that enforcement of permissive policies can be difficult and must be enforced consistently for all employees.

Workplace Injury and Safety Considerations

Any policy allowing Pokémon Go play at the worksite should address the physical movement and activity associated with finding and capturing Pokémon.  In addition to being distracting, employees wandering through the workplace while staring at their devices may cause injury to themselves or others.  This can also be viewed as unprofessional if an employee is playing the game offsite at a client's or other worksite.  Any injury can result in workers’ compensation insurance or possible tort claims.  Although an OSHA citation and penalty following an employee injury seems remote, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility for workplaces with hazardous processes. 

Property Access

One of the most frequent critiques of Pokémon Go is that it has led to an uptick in trespassing on private property.  Although some companies may encourage such visits (e.g., retailers and restaurants), for others—like chemical plants and the construction industry— it can present a safety risk to both trespassers and employees.  In these situations, companies have to decide whether the influx of trespassers (or potential customers) is something that may negatively impact their business.  If so, then there are steps the company can take to reduce the likelihood of players visiting their worksites.  The first step is to request removal of any “Pokéstop” or “Gym” on the premises through the game manufacturer’s website.4  The second step is to review site security and notifications to the public about trespassing.  Finally, employers should revisit their contractor and visitor policies to determine whether this issue should be directly addressed with other companies whose employees may be onsite. 

Policies Prohibiting Download on Company Devices

In order for individuals to play Pokémon Go, they must sign up through their Google account or create a Pokémon Trainer Club account.  For companies that issue devices to employees or that utilize Google Apps for Business – email or cloud document storage – permitting Pokémon Go to access the applications or device may present security risks, including the possibility of data breaches.  Pokémon Go has generated criticism for allowing access to users’ entire Google profiles (including email access).5  Although Pokémon Go has revised its user agreements to limit the program's access to users' Google IDs and email addresses, the concerns persist and have led the International Association of IT Asset Managers (“IAITAM”) to call for companies “to ban the installation and use of Pokémon Go” on corporate devices.6  Even employers that permit unfettered use of Pokémon Go in the workplace should consider updating their policies to prevent downloading unapproved third-party applications (such as Pokémon Go) on corporate devices and ensure that they address whether company email accounts may be used for games.  Employers with “bring your own device” (“BYOD”) programs should consider whether to extend that policy to participating personal mobile devices.

Pokémon Gone Soon?

The Pokémon Go craze shows no signs of abating; indeed, the current release is just the first iteration of the game, with options for interacting with other users promised for the future.  And this might be just the beginning of augmented gaming on mobile devices.  That being the case, the above steps can help employers deal with all these future employment and workplace issues in the reality of now.



Darrell Etherington, Pokémon Go Estimated at over 75m Downloads Worldwide, TechCrunch (July 25, 2016), available at https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/25/pokemon-go-75m-downloads/.

2 See, e.g., Joseph Stepansky, Pokémon Go Players Trespass in Staten Island’s 176-year-old Moravian Cemetery, Daily News (July 15, 2016), available at  http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pokemon-players-trespass-staten-island-moravian-cemetery-article-1.2713415.

3 Curtis Silver, “Pokémon Go” Outside and Play!, Forbes (July 9, 2016), available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/curtissilver/2016/07/09/pokemon-go-outside-and-play/#3ce4880d4f0e.

5 Thomas Fox-Brewster, iPhone Users: Pokemon Go Can Spy on Your Entire Google Account, Forbes (July 11, 2016), available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2016/07/11/pokemon-go-google-privacy-disaster/#af381573bc3d.

6 IAITAM, “Too Many Questions & Too Many Risks” to Allow Gaming App to Be Used in Business-Related Device, (July 18, 2016), available at http://iaitam.org/iaitam-press-release-iaitam-pokemon-go-devices-linked-sensitive-business-data/


Written by:


Littler on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.