Escape Rooms For Team Building
So if you’re following us on social media or you’re a regular reader of Lifehacker, you may have noticed that one of our Game Experience Managers, Jeremy (aka Junglist), has posted a great write-up of tips for surviving an escape room. He’s addressed a fair few topics that come up as either lessons learned from games or frequent questions that we get from players, so if you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely check it out.
However, there are some other questions that we do get fairly often that haven’t really been addressed elsewhere. These revolve around using escape rooms as part of team building exercises in a corporate environment. Let’s try and answer some of those questions now...
Is this a good team building exercise?
Yes! Escape rooms are great for team building. The main reason is that escape rooms take you out of your normal work environment, but still require you to work as a team to achieve a common goal. In particular with our rooms, there are elements of physical cooperation as well as collaborative thinking.
There are many social events that people use for team building, like going to a team lunch, or to the pub. The problem with those is that they are primarily social events done with the intention of getting everyone in an environment where they talk about things other than work. But if you’ve ever attended a work social event like that you probably already know that the conversation quickly turns to ‘shop talk’ and soon enough it’s just like you’re at the office, but with beers. The other thing is that not everyone is a socialite, if you have team members that will normally be quiet, there’s no reason that having dinner together will suddenly get them to open up.
These problems are avoided with escape rooms. Even if you wanted to talk shop, you couldn’t! You’ve got an hour to escape and you and your team have to concentrate on the task at hand. People who are normally quiet in the meeting room will be encouraged to speak up during the game when everyone’s throwing out ideas. Afterwards, people will be livened up by post-game analysis of your tactics where you will ask each other questions like, “How did we miss X, it’s so obvious now!” and “Remember when they told us not to use our sense of taste, but you licked the wall anyway?”.
Our team is spread across a load of age groups... Is this just a game for ‘young people’?
This is definitely not a game just for ‘young people’. Our escape games are designed to test all of your skills and we find that everyone has something to bring to the table. A little extra, ‘life experience’, is not a hinderance, in fact, it can sometimes be an advantage.
What can escape rooms teach us about our team and how we can work better?
Escape rooms are designed to get you thinking under a little bit of stress caused by the time running out. This tends to make people’s natural personalities come out. This is great for identifying people’s strengths and weaknesses.
What we do find occasionally with a corporate group, is that people will settle into their normal role in the work team. The boss will be the one barking out orders while everyone else does smaller jobs and not questioning leadership. This is the tactic that you should avoid. During the workweek, they may be the expert in their field and their judgment is not normally questioned. But this isn’t work, this is an escape room, with a scenario that none of you have seen before. Everyone should be pitching in with ideas, and listening to only one person often leads to failure.
With that in mind, if everyone is pitching in ideas, you may find a certain quality in one of your team members that you hadn’t noticed before. Maybe they are really good at communicating their thought process, maybe they’re great at finding a way of describing a difficult concept to others. Perhaps you’ll find that some people are natural leaders in this unusual environment, or that there are others with excellent ideas that otherwise aren’t noticed by the rest of the team. Lessons learned here can easily be taken in to your next work meeting.
Is there anything we can do to prepare for this?
Physically, there’s nothing strenuous that you need to do so you can skip the extra push ups and pre-game stretching. There’s also no prior knowledge required, so the late night cram session to memorise the capital of Burkina Faso will be wasted (it’s Ouagadougou by the way).
What would be useful is a talk about the importance of teamwork and how it can be used to your benefit (given the answer to the previous question), not only to escape from the room but in your everyday work environment. Emphasis should be placed on communication and the fact that the escape room should be considered a safe space for collaboration.
That last bit is really important, remember, your boss might not be the expert here. Everyone is at the same level and has something to contribute, just because someone is higher up the chain of command doesn’t mean their ideas are better than yours. Feel free to shout out suggestions or even try something crazy (just don’t lick the wall).
So there you go, hopefully that’s answered some of your questions about the benefit of escape rooms to the workplace, or perhaps it’s given you some talking points to help persuade your boss.
Do you have any more questions? Or perhaps you have some personal experience of playing our games with your work team that you would like to share? Leave us a comment below.