Team building games. If these three words alone are enough to make you shudder, you’re not alone. We’ve all been subjected to dull, seemingly-useless games in the name of “enhancing teamwork” in the office.
But it doesn’t have to be that way ― team building can actually be useful and interesting, and ― dare we say it ― fun! So let “Two Truths and a Lie” and “Charades” gather dust on the shelf, and instead, try an escape room for your next corporate team-building activity. Your employees are sure to have a blast while actually building skills and connections that will help them in the office and beyond.
Escape rooms are good for team building for many reasons, as they boost problem-solving and decision-making skills, pushing team members to think on the spot and communicate effectively. Let’s dive into the top 7 reasons why escape rooms are better than traditional team-building games.
While there’s no doubt that escape rooms are fun, they also mimic a high-stakes situation. Without good communication, you’re stuck ― literally! Escape rooms require team members to communicate quickly and clearly to solve problems as they arise. Not only can an escape room experience help reveal problem areas with your team’s communication styles, but it can actually help you improve how you work together. With more practice communicating, your team is much more likely to be able to communicate effectively in the real world, when the stakes are a little bit higher.
Escape rooms are all about strategy. From picking up on hidden clues to solving puzzles, a strategic mind is your best tool for getting out of there quickly. The skills you need in an escape room (thinking quickly, finding patterns, paying attention to detail, the list goes on…) are directly applicable to successfully carrying out pretty much any job out there. Better yet, the escape room provides an opportunity to practice problem-solving as a team in a low-stakes environment ― one that still gets your heart racing.
In most escape rooms, players have sixty minutes to get out and “beat” the game (hint, hint: it’s in 60Out’s name!). This time pressure encourages your team to manage time appropriately while remaining calm. There’s nothing worse than spending too long on a single problem only to realize you’ve run out of time for other important things. The direct link to life in the office is clear; team members must learn to plan appropriately in order to meet a clear deadline.
Escape rooms can also help employees learn to multitask more effectively. In some escape rooms, you may be presented with a number of different puzzles or facts all at once. To beat the clock, team members must sometimes coordinate the completion of different tasks at different times. While multitasking, a crucial aspect of time management, can be stressful, it’s often a necessary skill for the work environment. Luckily, multitasking skills in an escape room translate directly to the office. In fact, an academic study on escape rooms’ use as a team-building activity found that nine out of ten participants reported that the escape room experience motivated them to learn how to multitask better.
While traditional team-building games typically favor specific abilities (think: extroverted, physically able), escape rooms bring something for everyone. Escape rooms can certainly provide opportunities to highlight team members’ leadership abilities, but also provide opportunities for quiet leadership through problem-solving and creative thinking. Visiting an escape room allows team members with different skill sets to find their place to shine. For example, while one employee may excel when it comes to solving analytical puzzles and clues, another may be well-suited to keeping the bigger picture in mind and organizing the team to put disparate clues together. In fact, the unusual environment of the escape room may even bring to light strengths your team has that you didn’t even know about!
What’s more, escape rooms are friendly for all abilities, unlike games that require running or specific senses. For example, while a blindfolded game may improve communication, it excludes employees with hearing impairment. The best team-building game is one that everyone can not only participate in but excel at in their own way.
There’s nothing like moving through a challenge together to create a shared sense of accomplishment. Escape rooms are a great opportunity to put the team together and work towards a common goal ― one that is perhaps a bit more straightforward than the common goals you pursue in the office. Team building is all about creating positive memories together. A memory of successfully overcoming a challenge by depending on others is sure to build trust and confidence moving forward. Next time you encounter a problem as a team, you can be sure that your teammates have got your back and that you have the skills to overcome it. After all, if you can escape a cursed ghost ship or Dr. Psycho’s lair together, you can do anything…
Let’s face it — even the most casual office setting is still an office! Getting your team to a different, more relaxed environment can help people loosen up and get to know each other without work stress looming over their heads. New topics of conversation or newly discovered skills may arise in an unfamiliar environment. Bring people out of their shells and let them show off their determination and wit as they move through each puzzle. Revealing new personality traits can help the team build new relationships or strengthen old ones.
Last, but certainly not least, escape rooms are actually fun. In fact, many team members may have even chosen to visit an escape room on their own, outside of work. Choosing an activity that is fun yet goal-oriented will help your team to feel invested in the team-building activity, rather than simply participating because they feel forced to. Let’s get rid of “forced fun” and actually start having it — even at work.
In order to truly make the most of your escape room experience, consider having a team debrief after the game. Take the opportunity to let team members commend each other on where they excelled, letting them build up each others’ strength and confidence. Discuss where things could have gone better. Was the communication working? Was time managed effectively? Reflecting on this experience will help bring home the lessons of the game, and may help your team members carry these important lessons into future team projects.