Fewer applications seems to be Facebook's new theme as we move forward in the chatbot arena.
Over the course of the past year, the social media giant has introduced various new components for its Messenger platform. In addition to its availability for developers to build out a multitude of their own bots along with organizations ramping up customer service and payment options via chatbot, Messenger is also integrating games into its system.
Back in November 2016, Facebook introduced a new feature to its Messenger platform with its Instant Games to a limited number of users. Just a few days ago, it released Instant Games to the rest of the world with two new features that include bots that have the capability to communicate with other players and turn-by-turn games rather than solo playing.
The issue that arises with integrating games into the chatbot sphere is whether or not this will be a distraction from workplace productivity.
When social media came onto the scene in the early 2000s, it became a major concern for employers with regards to its impact on employee productivity levels. According to research from the Pew Research Center, most of the reasons why people are on social media at work tends to be positive with a mix of personal and professional uses, which include:
- 34 percent — taking a mental break from job
- 27 percent — connecting with friends and family
- 24 percent — making or supporting professional connections
- 20 percent — researching ways to solve work problems
- 17 percent — building or strengthening personal relationships with coworkers
- 17 percent — learning about someone they work with
- 12 percent — asking work-related questions of people outside their organization
- 12 percent — asking work-related questions of people inside their organization
With 51 percent of employers having a social media policy in place, 77 percent of people use some form of social media while at work, 56 percent say it's a distraction, 54 percent say it helps recharge them for work and 51 percent say it reveals too many details about coworkers.
While there haven't been many deep dives in how integrating games into chatbots like Messenger will impact the productivity of employees, it may be safe to say that there will be a similar outcome to that of social media. Games may have a mixed bag of positive and negative impacts on employees during the workday.
Research from Kansas State University shows people who spend a few minutes every few hours playing a game at work were much happier than their counterparts. Even so, a CareerBuilder study found that 20 percent of employers believe people work less than five hours each workday with 55 percent of that time dedicated to smartphones and 41 percent to the internet. It also found that what employees actually reported was that 65 percent of their time spent away from work activities was for personal messaging, while 24 percent was spent on gaming.
As it stands now, there doesn't appear to be a clear-cut determination of whether or not bringing games to social media in a more direct pairing will have mostly positive or mostly negative impacts on overall productivity. With Facebook's Instant Games inside its Messenger platform, this may just be the lit fire needed underneath researchers and analysts to explore this area in more depth. The only thing that remains is what employers will do when those results come. As employees already find ways around blocked websites at work, they will likely also find ways to play games during the workday.
Alternative solutions to blocking websites will likely start popping up around the topics discussed in executive meetings in the near future.