Yesterday was just another day in the office. I wrote, I ate lunch at my desk, and at 3 PM, a group of us headed out of the office for an afternoon snack—because it was 7/11 and slurpies were free at 7-Eleven.
But, surprisingly, that wasn’t what got our group pumped up to leave the office. While we walked to the nearest location, several of my colleagues held their phones at eye-level, desperately searching for Pokemon while simultaneously trying to avoid New York foot traffic. It was hilarious to watch—they shoved phones into each other’s faces, they shouted, they eagerly compared stats. When we reached the elevators back up to the office several phones crashed and people groaned.
I know for a fact that this is not unusual at other offices across the country. Employees are ducking out for “lunch” in search of Pokestops, or masking their phones under their desk to scan the office for signs of life. Needless to say, it’s already been bad for many people’s productivity.
In fact, one Pokemon trainer’s boss decided to take a stand by posting a letter stating: “We are paying you to work, not chase fictional video game characters with your cell phone all day.” Included was a Pokeball with a slash through it and the final word: “Save it for your break time or lunch. Otherwise you’ll have plenty of time unemployed to “Catch them all.”
While this memo comes off a bit harsh (at least to the people involved, to everyone else it’s rather funny), the boss has a point. Twitter’s buzzing with people commenting on their successes while they’re supposed to be working:
Getting made fun of by my superiors for not playing #PokemonGO at work.... What is happening.— Catnip (@RadioCatnip) July 12, 2016
Our server is down at work, preventing me from doing anything productive. Think it might be time to download #PokemonGO and catch em all!— Meagan Guerreiro (@meagan_ashleyh) July 12, 2016
So is Pokemon Go the worst thing that happened to the workplace? Probably not. Yes, it’s a crazy distraction. But it’s also become a great bonding experiment. Just as people congregate on the streets to find their catch of the day, co-workers are suddenly getting together and teaming up.
I asked some of the Muse’s biggest Pokemon fans how they managed to balance work and play. Danny Abdeljabbar, Account Executive, actually uses the game as a reward system for himself: “With any job you need to strike a good work-life balance. When I get through those emails and morning meeting, then I can get up and track down that Charmander I saw earlier for a few minutes. By using Pokemon Go as a reward system, I’m [more] motivated to complete my tasks.”
He also thinks the program’s already brought him closer to his colleagues: “It’s not often that you find a mobile app that gets people talking as much as a recent sports game or an episode of Game of Thrones. I’d say that our office is already very welcoming, but I’ve been finding myself chatting with people I’ve never spoken to because of it. We’ve got a Slack chat room devoted to the topic and have already gone on lunchtime hunts.”
Social Media Intern Kia Tolentino agrees: “Now that more people in the office are talking about Pokemon Go, I’m able to jump in on more conversations than I could before, being that I can be a bit of an introvert when it comes to these kinds of things. It might be something small but it makes a difference to me.”
And, she adds, “I spend the bulk of my playing on my way to work. I never thought I’d see the day when I actually look forward to my commute.”
Maybe the game’s not so horrible, and maybe it’s even a great alternative to normal gatherings such as happy hour. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with taking breaks. (In fact, you should be taking them!) But regardless, some managers are watching their employees closely, so my suggestion? Try to “catch them all” once your work is done.