Using Online Escape Room Games to Strengthen Your Remote Teams

2021.05.26.

The escape room craze has moved from games played by the public and now has become a tool for team building and recruitment. It's easy to see why, as the activity has all the right elements including problem-solving, time management, communication, and working out complex challenges. All the attributes that are necessary to increase the overall relationship strength of your teams. 

Are Online Escape Rooms Right for Your Team?

If you're going to be taking part and are all new players in new teams, then the escape room game scenario is a perfect way of all getting to know one another. If, on the other hand, you're all part of an established team, then the game can be equally useful in allowing its members to "let off steam" after an intense period of work, or as a celebration of a project completed. The gameplay itself is useful in building a number of important skills. And, in some ways, the game can act as a kind of "rehearsal" if there are some challenging or high stakes projects ahead.

When an Online Escape Room Game is Not Suitable

With all this praise surrounding escape room games, you're probably waiting for the other shoe to drop. In truth, there are situations that an escape room can not help, and may even exacerbate an already tense situation. If there is any significant conflict between members of your work teams, then don't look at escape room games as being able to offer any sort of solution. In fact, the stress and pressure situation inside a confined room, even when playing over Zoom, may only serve to make matters much worse. Be wary of each team member as an individual person. Do you think that they will benefit from the escape room experience, or will they feel alienated, embarrassed, or anxious? How well do you think they will cope in a team situation where they need to think quickly under pressure?  Are they the type who will happily accept collaboration in order to move the game forwards?

It Cannot Fix Everything

Also, keep in mind that not all the online escape room themes might be appropriate for all the team members. Themes like horror or crime might not fit with your company or organization or people might be reluctant to play them for personal reasons. Before you start the whole process of putting together an escape room game for the benefit of the workplace, make sure that you go through all the details with HR and your manager. In general, the online escape room genre is not going to be some sort of magic quick-fix for any internal problems that might ail your workgroups. Yes, they can be helpful. But for that to happen, it requires a continuous process of strategies designed to help increase trust, boost motivation and help everyone focus. 

Before Playing The Game

It's important that all the remote attendees know the reason you've chosen this type of team-building exercise. You'll need to decide whether it's simply a social event or designed to highlight or enhance certain skills within the team. If it's some form of test, then you must be frank and up-front about this. You will lose trust if the employees think it's some sort of secret analysis. No one likes to be played for a fool or tricked into something they know nothing about. Absolutely no one member of the team, or any players for that matter, feel any pressure or that the results will somehow reflect on their overall company performance.  

Make sure that you give all the team members enough time to prepare by advertising the game well ahead of time. Ensure that all the activities and that all the instructions and rules are clearly understood by everyone. It's best if all the players decide on a certain level of conduct during the online gameplay, as you want to maintain a healthy balance between competition and cooperation.  

During the Escape Room Game

As the online game is designed to be immersive, then it's imperative that all the players are fully engaged. Ensure that all the players know from the very beginning that they can always ask for help. You don't want to run the risk of layers becoming stuck on one part of the game and therefore getting frustrated and missing it out altogether. Make sure they know that they can approach the game master with any questions or queries, as he's there to ensure the game runs as smoothly as possible. Keep an eye out for any team player who's not participating or remains uninvolved. Either you or the game master will need to find a means of getting them back into the game and becoming involved again, by encouraging them to find new strategies or looking for different problem-solving means. 

After the Online Escape Room Game

First things first...it really is of no consequence whether the game was completed within the allotted time. Whether the game was ultimately successful is really down to the original aims of the game in the first place. Once the game is done, then take the time to discuss with all the players their experience. Let them chat and re-live their favorite bits of the gameplay. This is a form of self-debriefing, and as such, will encourage them to see their own triumphs and failures within the game. if you are overseeing these discussions, then ensure that they are kept positive.

Later on, on an individual level, they might be asked to discuss the game with their line manager, who can help evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, along with areas for possible improvement. if there are any further training needs that have shown themselves during the course of the gameplay, then now is the time to discuss them. It's important that you convey the positives from the experience and talk about the benefits that you see from having taken part in the escape room game.  

Things to Think About

Will the Benefits be Worth The Cost?

if you were doing a traditional escape room game, then you would need to consider the cost of transportation, catering, etc, as well as the cost of the time taken away from the workplace. But, seeing as today we have no choice but to play remotely, then you'll need to consider the cost of using a pre-made online game as well as the time away from productive work. A simple cost-benefit analysis will et you see the light, as well as give you something more tangible to show those who will be making the ultimate decision about whether to have such a team-building effort.  

Which Theme Work Best?

The theme matters! This is because it will set the tone of the whole experience for the players. Also, different themes may target different aspects of competence or other skills you're trying to focus on. if for example, the idea is to hold a team building where the primary aim is to have a relaxing time, then it's probably wisest to go for a mythological or classic theme, as you want all the players to engage in some form of creative thinking. Mystery themes work well, as they are primarily focused on problem-solving. The same goes for scientific themes. 

Though horror themes are exceedingly popular with the general public, they are not correct for all companies to r organizations. Yes, it's true that they certainly encourage quick thinking and foster a sense of teamwork under extreme stress, but not everyone enjoys being frightened, even if the threat is only imaginary. 

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