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3 ways managers can keep employees on task with Pokémon Go

By Portage County Business Council

Originally published by the Business Journal 

If the proliferation of Pokémon Go in the past week has reached your office, don’t panic — yet.

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game where users are tasked with “catching” the Pokémon they see in the app screen on their mobile device.

The line between personal time and work time in the office has become more blurred, and more and more employees spend at least part of their day tapping away at apps on mobile devices.

That doesn’t mean employees won’t get their work done — just that they’re more likely to break away from their daily tasks to do some gaming, respond to some text messages or update their Facebook status while in the office.

“Workers who participate in such activities will still likely get their assignments completed anyway — they’ll just compensate for time spent on non-work tasks by shifting their hours or staying late,” said Andrew Butkus, Denver division director for Robert Half Technology. Robert Half (NYSE: RHI) is a Menlo Park, California-based staffing firm.

In fact, a June survey by jobs website CareerBuilder found that 66 percent of workers say they use their smart phone at work, with 24 percent admitting to gaming on apps like Pokémon Go.

And while research shows that employers who allow employees to engage in personal activities at work can ultimately lead to increased productivity (through morale, camaraderie and team building, for example), “it’s important not to go overboard,” Butkus said.

“Work shouldn’t suffer due to time spent on personal activities,” he added. “Occasionally checking your smartphone during the day won’t likely have a big effect on your performance, but productivity can be impacted if it becomes a habit.”

Robert Half and Butkus offer three tips for managers to prevent productivity problems before they started:

1. Relay the rules.

“Ensure employees understand company policies and what’s acceptable and what’s not,” Butkus said.

2. Lead by example.

“Managers should make sure to set expectations and lead by example,” Butkus said. “If employees see that their managers are making sure business needs are attended to, they’ll be more likely to do the same.

3. Let them ‘Go’ (sometimes).

“While companies haven’t lost their focus on the bottom line, most realize that good employees will make sure the work gets done, even if they do take a few minutes here and there to attend to personal interests,” Butkus said.