In the past several weeks, Pokémon Go has taken the world, and many workplaces, by storm. If you’re concerned about reducing the negative impact that this game may be having on your employees’ productivity – and, more importantly, their safety – here are five steps you can take:

  1. Make sure that your corporate policies for use of email, internet, and electronic devices are up to date. The policies should state the parameters and limitations regarding the use of these tools for personal matters. If your company allows for reasonable use of internet and personal email, the policy should state that an employee’s personal activity should not interfere with his or her job responsibilities. Ideally, a policy will also include a non-exhaustive list of sites, apps, games, and other programs that employees should not access at work. Examples, such as Pokémon Go, can also be listed. A specific social media policy that limits personal use of sites such as Facebook and Instagram should be included, as well. The policy should also limit personal use of mobile phones during work hours. In drafting or revising any policies, be sure that you take into account the recent decisions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). These decisions strike down common personnel policies on the grounds that they could lead reasonable employees to believe they may face discipline for engaging in protected activity with or on behalf of one or more co-workers relating to employees’ wages, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.
  2. Restrict downloads on company networks and devices. Companies can restrict access to apps by prohibiting employees from downloading them through their networks, downloading them onto company-issued devices, or registering for them with company email addresses.
  3. Review your confidentiality policies. Pokémon Go, as well as other apps that rely on cell phone cameras, have the potential to capture confidential information. Review your company’s policy to determine whether it has kept pace with advances in technology, and whether to prohibit the use of some apps altogether in order to ensure compliance. In this area, as well, be careful that your confidentiality policy is not so broad that it runs afoul of recent NLRB decisions.
  4. Alert your employees. All employees should receive or be able to easily access the company’s policies so that they understand company expectations. If necessary, you may want to consider distributing a specific notice informing employees that playing Pokémon Go is not allowed during working hours or on work premises.
  5. Establish and follow a disciplinary procedure. If an employee violates any company policy, follow the established procedures. Whether it is a warning or termination, the important part is to be consistent.