As my 11-year-old begs to borrow my mobile device to catch a Pokémon, I become one more Generation X member unwittingly joining the millions of millennials participating in an augmented reality game. For employers, Pokémon demonstrated that an app can rapidly gain enormous popularity, resulting in significant portions of the workforce downloading the app on mobile devices before employers know the app’s effect on data privacy or the presence of objective content.
Like the time allotted before a Pokémon despawns, an employer’s reaction time to the next augmented reality game will be limited. Employers, however, should not panic. The electronic use policies for employer-owned devices, and bring your own device (BYOD) policies for employee-owned devices, which have been recommended for years, provide the template for an employer’s response and an employee’s obligations. Employers who have not implemented electronic use and BYOD policies should not wait any longer. Unless the policies are clearly communicated to employees, compliance will be limited. The Pokémon phenomenon is a great opportunity to recirculate your electronic use and BYOD policies, reminding employees about their mobile device restrictions.
An electronic use policy can prohibit all unapproved downloads to employer-owned devices. A BYOD policy can require written authorization from employees that use of their personal device may be limited as long as the device has access to employer networks, including limitations on downloads that are not preapproved by the employer. Technology that allows an employer to remotely disconnect network access or even execute a remote wipe of content on an employee- or employer-owned device, assuming prior written authorization from the employee for this action, also can help protect employers from downloads that compromise company information.
Pokémon may be the first widely used augmented reality game, but it will not be the last. New applications of augmented reality may involve social media, creating new issues for employers and further emphasizing the need for solid technology policies.