Escape Rooms: The Bluechip Team Building Day Your Staff Will Invest in.
Corporate team-building days don't have to be a dreaded, miserable affair that manages to bring your employees together only due to their shared desire to avoid it.
By running an on-site DIY escape room afternoon at work, you can be the hero who made team building something to look forward to! Let's do this.
The best way to strike fear into the heart of your team is to send out an email announcing an upcoming team-building day.
The moment you hit send, you can practically hear the mental groans resonating throughout the office.
You can smell the desperation as colleagues scramble to submit personal leave requests before their cubicle mates beat them to it.
As the fated day approaches, you can literally see the tension rise as your coworkers huddle in groups and mutter to each other through clenched jaws.
It certainly says something about the average team-building activity that employees would rather stay at their desks and work than participate in one!
One reason for this may be that the same old team-building activities have been circulating like bad pennies since before the Internet even existed.
Today, thanks to modern technology, it takes no effort at all to perform a quick Google search and collect a bevy of games designed to get groups working together, solving problems, and communicating like … well … teams.
But, seriously, from which mausoleum are these tired, moldy ideas exhumed?
Let’s face it. If you’re going to avoid being “accidentally” left out of group lunch invites for the next six months, you’re going to have to offer your team something fresh.
Fortunately for you (and your reputation), there is nothing fresher – or more widely lauded as worth the time – than this year's hottest team activity: Competitive Office Escape Rooms.
What Your Crew Expects
A typical corporate team-building exercise is a non-work-related game that encourages employees to practice the same types of skills they use when collaborating on a project at work.
Attend any team-building meeting or retreat, and you may find yourself maneuvering through a maze blindfolded, inflating or popping balloons, building towers out of unusual objects, or possibly trusting your coworkers to catch you as you plummet toward the floor.
As weird as they may be, these games do encourage the use of a variety of skills.
And, to be fair, they’re not the least bit work related.
As for fun … that tends to be extremely subjective depending on the person playing. (“What? You enjoy trust falls? Okay … weirdo.”)
Which explains all those mental groans.
A good team-building activity is a non-work-related game that not only encourages employees to practice the same types of skills they use when collaborating on a project at work, it’s enjoyable for everyone involved.
A great team-building activity also includes wine.
And laughs. Definitely laughs.
A Better Way to Build a Team
So, there is a type of game that requires participants to solve problems as a team, has nothing to do with most people’s jobs, and is almost unanimously described as fun.
And it rarely requires anyone to plummet to the floor (at least not deliberately).
Competitive escape games are, dare we say it, the ideal team-building activity.
There can be only one.
Competition results in excellence.
It’s striving to be the best, to be the first, to be the chosen one (okay, maybe not that last one) that turns people into winners (or, you know, superheroes).
When you divide your group into teams and set them on an escape adventure, it brings out the best in them. It’s a quest.
Corporate team-building activities that require employees to pass hula-hoops around circles or accomplish tasks without using their hands result in groans because nobody gets to be his or her best in those scenarios.
Feeling awkward is the opposite of feeling like a superhero winner.
Whereas, a competition in which everyone feels empowered (blended with fun) brings teams together.
Escape games are made out of problems.
Typical team-building activities require employees to strengthen their problem-solving skills.
It just so happens that the #1 ingredient in an escape game is (you guessed it) problems!
Sure, other team-building exercises involve problem-solving scenarios, but they’re empty. The tasks and their solutions are unrelated to anything anyone can be proud of (unless your employees typically hang out at the pub bragging about their ability to navigate obstacles while tied to one another).
The cool thing about escape games is that the puzzles are all related to an imaginative scenario. There’s storytelling involved, and completing each challenge moves the group toward a tangible (if imaginary) goal.
Escape games promise a “dire consequence” if the team doesn’t escape within the allotted time period. Real urgency brings teams together better than any potato-sack race ever did.
You get problem solving. You get time management. You get creativity under pressure. And your teammates feel like they’ve solved a crime or escaped an ancient tomb afterwards. Now that’s something to brag about down at the pub!
Hustling together is the key.
You can’t successfully complete an office escape game without communicating with your coworkers.
Solving a series of escape room puzzles together requires participants to share information, listen to each other, express ideas clearly, and even interact using both speech and body language.
Rather than favoring employees who excel at brainstorming or explaining tasks to others or keeping the group motivated, escape games bring everyone together to contribute in their own ways.
Which leads to the next advantage.
No individuals are singled out.
For many, the worst part of a team-building day is the discomfort they feel when put on the spot in front of their peers. #CantSing #CantDance #CantMiniGolf #Help.
Escape games don’t put the spotlight on any one player; everyone gets to participate using his or her unique talents without feeling awkward or insecure. This makes the playing field much more level than it would be during a game that requires only hand-eye coordination, dramatic flair, or crafty inclinations.
Leaders stand out.
Often, managers observe team-building exercises to see if any natural leaders emerge in a group. One of the best ways to do this is through a team-building room escape exercise.
Those who possess leadership abilities often stand out in escape scenarios by helping the team keep track of clues that haven’t been solved yet, make connections between seemingly unrelated discoveries, and boosting morale as the deadline creeps closer.
When faced with tasks that require cooperation, leaders are frequently the ones providing guidance to each participant.
If you're looking to pinpoint which employees to put on a management track, look no further than the dynamic during a team-building escape room.
Putting the Theory to the Test
The team-building escape event was sponsored by the host business of a coworking space in Melbourne, Australia. The event began at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday as employees shut down their computers and transitioned into a night of high-energy fun.
Once divided into groups of five, the three teams were challenged to be the first to successfully complete the game’s series of puzzles.
With game packets in hand and a custom Spotify playlist building tension in the background, the race was on!
Amidst boisterous laughter, serious puzzle-solving focus, and elated “a-ha” moments, the teams practiced their communication, problem-solving, time-management, and collaboration skills without any of the awkward self consciousness typically associated with team-building exercises.
Why? Everyone was having too much fun!
It took the teams almost exactly 60 minutes to complete the challenge, even though no timer had been set.
The game was followed by another hour of relaxed conversation as participants chose to stick around and enjoy the company and complimentary beer, wine, and cheese.
How to just 'Get it done'
If you're in a hurry just download one of these printable escape room kits.
Being printable makes them an ideal corporate team building activity because you can make as many copies as you need. For example, just print the game 3 times for 12 team members and you're done.
The evening resulted in irrefutable evidence in favor of using DIY escape rooms as corporate team-building activities:
- The engagement was voluntary.
- It was on a Friday night.
- And 15 employees chose to stay for two hours after work and participate.
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Next time your company’s culture committee is planning team-building activities, why not give a live escape adventure a try?
You can do this in a couple of ways.
There are full-sized, immersive escape rooms everywhere in the world that will lock your group in and give you an hour to figure out how to get back out. Some public escape adventure venues also offer virtual reality quests your team can collectively participate in.
But while public escape games can be super fun, there’s really no need to leave the office and spend $30 each to get your escape on. Just download one of our ready-to-play, printable kits (or, if you’re really ambitious, you can design your own) and play in a conference or break room!
Team Building with Printable Escape Kits
All the reasons escape games make great team-building exercises we mentioned before apply, whether you go to a public escape room or use one of our printable escape kits.
The difference? Ours are 'just done'.
The person who’s been lobbed the thankless task of making the day run (which is probably you; our condolences) generally ends up investing waaaaaay too much time and effort (often at the detriment to his or her day-to-day responsibilities).
You don’t just have to plan the activity. You also have to get everything set up on the day of the event and orchestrate the whole process once everyone shows up. (And we’re guessing you also have to clean up afterwards.)
If you use a ready-to-play escape game kit, all the work is done!
All you need to do is print a set of game cards for each team, provide the tools listed in the instructions (some games require pens, scissors, and tape – things you already have around the office), and say, “Go!”
We even provide a custom Spotify playlist to add the appropriate atmosphere!
And, bonus! There’s hardly any cleanup required afterward!
Toss the game cards in the recycle bin, pick up any office supplies you used, and you’re done! No balloons littered everywhere or furniture to put back in order. Easy.
One word: Flexibility.
The DIY escape kits we offer come with everything you need to host your adventure whatever way works best for you and your team.
- Games can be scheduled during the workday or after the office closes up for the night.
- You can adapt the game to accommodate any number of employees; just print a set of game cards for each team – you’re limited only by the amount of paper you have on hand!
- The games can be customized, so if you need to add your logo or other branding to the deck before printing it, you've got the tools you need to do so.
- You don’t need a lot of room, so there’s no need to book that giant conference room that’s always too cold.
- You can set a timer and let everyone compete against the clock or do what we did and challenge teams to race each other.
- And although we just relaxed and discussed the game informally afterwards, there’s no reason an HR professional can’t sit in and lead everyone in an evaluation of key observations afterwards.
Finally, the price is right.
Since team building is a recurring budget item, most companies have a limited amount to work with for each event.
Our entire office game kit, including the paper it’s printed on, costs less than a round of coffees.
You can plan a whole year’s worth of team-building days, and still have funds left over for snacks!
People who work well together as a team typically enjoy their jobs more, produce better work, and get more done. So it’s no wonder that companies everywhere place a lot of emphasis on team building.
But if you’ve ever been the recipient of a chorus of grumbles when team-building activity time came around, you know how hard it is to find games employees actually want to participate in.
Trust us when we tell you, a live escape game requires your group to practice all the skills you want to reinforce, while simultaneously being so much fun, your employees may actually start asking to have team-building day more often!
Now wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?
Score a fun corporate team building Escape Room Kit:
If you're in a hurry just download one of these printable escape room kits.
Being printable makes them an ideal corporate team building activity because you can make as many copies as you need. For example, just print the game 3 times for 12 team members.
Buy them once. Use forever. Seriously.