How Your Team Can Benefit From Escape Room Team Building

2021.09.23.

Since its inception in Japan in the early 2000’s, escape room games have become much more than just a trend. Go to any city anywhere in the western world, and you'll find a whole load of escape room games companies waiting to entertain you. To that point they are now totally mainstream. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 10 years, escape room games are essentially an immersive role-playing game. The players are locked in a room and need to find any number of clues and puzzles, which they need to solve within a certain time limit, in order to be set free. As the clock ticks down, the pressure mounts, and the game builds to a grand finale in the form of a “will they or won’t they” complete the task and make their timely escape.

Escape rooms come in all shapes and sizes and will vary hugely from venue to venue. Every room has its own theme. Thanks to the narrative that's told to the players before they go in, this helps create a totally immersive experience. Among the most popular themes are abandoned mental institutions, spaceships, tombs, murder scenes, and haunted hotels. 

Because the very genre of escape room needs a group of players, it quickly becomes a bonding exercise. After all, the whole group is stuck in a relatively small space and all will need everyone’s help in order to succeed. In order to escape, players need to work together to find the clues and solve them as one. It's the very fact that escape rooms require teamwork, that companies are now starting to look at them as a means of helping to increase workplace productivity and maybe help solve issues within the workplace.

Escape Room Team Building

Over the last 20-years or so the idea of corporate team building has become fashionable. To help with this trend many companies were set up with the sole intention of inventing and devising team building exercises and games. As you can imagine most of these are rubbish with these new recreational companies having a bigger eye on corporate spending, as opposed to offering any sort of valuable service. You could go white water rafting or climbing cliffs or racing go-karts. Sounds great fun, but behind it there is nothing about building teams or even an attempt at looking into the psychology of team bonding. 

Only with the advent of escape rooms did bosses and managers finally see something worthwhile that would actually help in strengthening teams and encouraging employees to work together as one cohesive unit. And that's the reason why escape room games have become the number one team building exercise across any number of industries. 

Let's check out a few of the benefits.

Members Set A Common Goal

By joining an escape room game, the players are setting a goal which is to solve the room's mysteries and make their escape. In the same way, in the office environment, there are set departmental goals. These can be everything from addressing all the items in the queue, getting the numbers up, or finishing a project. Most team goals are orientated in the same way.

On the whole, there are three steps to setting up team goals. First off, the members of the team must each determine what they think the overall goal is going to be. Then take individual notes. In the second pass, the team members will compare these notes. In many cases by comparing these, they discover that they are actually in conflict with each other. These notes need revising so that they reflect a single common goal. Once the notes are revised, the entire team must work together to agree on their common purpose and aim. You'll often find that by using this method to deal with common goals, many team members will find themselves re-orientated, with a better understanding of what they are supposed to be aiming for.

Departments Can Assess Members

Many managers will say that one of the great benefits of escape room games is that they will clearly show how the different members within the department deal with conflict. In today's modern working environment it’s understood that conflict resolution is essential if the business is to move forwards. In the working environment it's often difficult to find resolution because assessing conflict is difficult in itself. After all, there's no paper trail or bloody knife.

By playing escape room games, the team members are forced to come face-to-face and deal with each other. It becomes very easy to recognise any conflict between team members. Because the game also injects an element of desperation. Being able to see conflict at this level is going to provide a valuable resource for a number of reasons. The first one being that the department can see the individuals strengths and weaknesses when it comes to problem-solving skills. Secondly, it tells the department which team members need to be given more attention. 

If there are ever members who have a struggle with conflict resolution then maybe their managers need to examine their direct workplace situation. This will allow the department to see exactly the areas where it's team members are struggling. Only by recognising this, will the business be able to plan for making improvements.

Members Get Into The Mindset

If you want to solve a new problem quickly and efficiently, then it's important that all the team members are able to get into the same mindset. This is the same whether you're trying to solve a puzzle in an escape room or one at work. Another thing to keep in mind is the team players' present mindset. In some ways we can say there are two forms of mindsets. The first is what's known as the “growth mindset.” This is a way of looking at problems and seeing any shortcomings as only being temporary. Maybe they don't possess the exact skills needed right now to find the solution, but they are aware they will educate themselves, overcome, and be able to move forwards thanks to their own efforts

Then we have a “fixed mindset.” This is a way of looking at the present as if it was permanent. It can be summed up when someone says “no idea how, so there's no reason in even trying to find a solution.” They tend to have fixed ideas. In the work environment you'll find them to be probably the most poor performers. When playing in an escape room game, it will be pretty obvious who has which type of mindset. Once you identify a fixed mindset, you can start to gradually begin the process of changing it into one of a more open mind.

Identify Disruption

Unfortunately every workplace has someone who might be struggling with conflict resolution problem solving and also possessing a fixed mindset. Not the greatest mix in one person. An employee like this can not only hurt the company's performance, but also the company itself. This is because more often than not, a type of negative behaviour will spill into causing disruption. These types will not add to any team, but rather will actually take away from it. We all know at least one of this type, as they are not pleasant to be around. The only joy seems to come from creating disruption and discord amongst other members of the same department. And to top it off, they are often promoted to management positions simply because they have no social skills and therefore can act out their true selves as sociopaths.

Get Members Engaged

In spite of escape rooms being promoted for team-building exercises, you shouldn't forget that it's not just about problem solving. Incredibly engaging and fun, and as a social activity it really is second to none. And keep in mind that essentially it’s a game. You’ll find those who play games on a regular basis will do much better. On a practical level, escape room games provide a break from the normal workplace drudge. It's important that companies recognise that they need to give you a break once in a while and let their employees get together and have some fun.

You might think that a company dinner or other event is perfectly adequate. But even if you're a budget conscious business, you'll find your money much better spent by allowing your employees to play an escape room game. The team building benefits are huge. And the fun element is pretty much incomparable to other forms of entertainment for team building exercises. You only have to listen to the excited chatter after the game to understand how it has affected all those who played together. And being done on the business dollar will only enhance the reputation of the business itself.

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