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Why Escape Rooms Are Perfect Team Building Activities

Updated: Feb 19

David Brent struggles to command a flagging team building session.

It’s been over twenty years since David Brent uttered the immortal words “go and get the guitar”. Like many things, the average worker’s expectations have changed a lot since then, and people generally demand a lot more than management parables in the break room.

If you’re looking for corporate team building ideas, and doing everything you can to avoid a Brentian nightmare that leaves your employees in a cold sweat, escape rooms might just be the answer you’re looking for. In this article, we explore why escape rooms are such a great solution to the ‘away day problem’, by providing an experience that’s genuinely fun, while building valued communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills.


Fostering Collaboration and Communication Skills


The essence of escape room experiences is everybody working together to achieve a common goal. Team members are thrust into a scenario where success hinges on their ability to communicate effectively and collaborate efficiently.


As such, escape rooms are a natural breeding ground for teamwork, as they require each participant to listen actively, articulate thoughts clearly, and delegate tasks smartly – attributes that are pretty likely to crop up annual reviews. Through a series of interconnected challenges, team members learn the significance of joint decision-making and the power of combining diverse perspectives to overcome obstacles.

Qualities that escape rooms require and encourage:  


- Active Listening: Teammates need to pay close attention in order to pick up on important clues.

- Clear Communication: Conveying found information accurately is crucial to the team’s success.

- Role Assignment: Figuring out who is best suited for different tasks is a key strategy.

- Decision-Making: Teams must make decisions quickly, testing their ability to reach a consensus.

Encouraging Creative Problem-Solving


Creative problem-solving in escape rooms isn’t just optional, it's completely necessary if you’re going to escape. The challenges presented urge participants to think laterally, stretch their creativity and find innovative solutions.


When faced with utterly unique situations disguised as puzzles, team members learn to shatter conventional thought patterns and embrace creative uncertainty. It’s so easy for corporate employees to get bogged down in everyday tasks, using less of their critical thinking skills and doing things because “that’s just how they’re done”. That kind of ‘sleepwalking’ ultimately deprives companies of their most valuable asset: the intelligence and creativity of their staff. An activity like an escape room can snap employees out of this pattern and reengage your staff.


Key skills an escape room experience can develop:


- Lateral Thinking: Teams are motivated to consider all possible solutions, even unconventional ones.

- Idea Generation: Brainstorming becomes integral, encouraging a flow of creative suggestions.

- Innovation under Pressure: Working against the clock, teams learn to innovate swiftly.

- Adaptability: As puzzles evolve, the ability to adapt strategies is essential.


Identifying Individual Strengths and Weaknesses


Escape rooms also present an excellent opportunity for management to assess and evaluate staff potential. The natural talents and limitations of each team member can be observed outside the confines of an office environment (or annual review). A junior employee might demonstrate unexpected management potential or you might realise a high performer needs to polish their communication skills. Either way, it’s a great chance to learn more about your staff. You can also learn a great deal about team dynamics in an escape room environment. If you’re a manager, you might not have a complete view of how your staff interact with each other, but an informal environment like an escape room gives you a fresh opportunity to see who works well together and which team members don’t gel. What roles do people naturally fill? Could they be bringing more of that energy to the office?


What escape rooms can help you identify in your team:


- Natural Leaders: Those who take charge in directing the team can be easily identified.

- Analytical Minds: Individuals who excel at solving complex puzzles shine in this setting.

- Detail-oriented Players: Some team members may be adept at noticing subtleties that others miss.

- Supportive Roles: Those who assist and boost team morale play a crucial role in the dynamic.


Offering a Low-Stress Environment for Colleague Interaction


Escape rooms stand apart by offering a relaxed, entertaining platform for colleagues to interact beyond the confines of the office (that isn’t the pub). In this space, the pressure to perform is lifted, paving the way for genuine connections to form.


As puzzles unfold, so too do conversations and interactions that might not occur in a typical office environment. This experience has a knack for breaking down barriers, fostering new partnerships, and deepening existing bonds. If your organisations suffers from compartmentalisation (and most large organisations do) an experience like an escape room can begin to break down the barriers that naturally form between teams, work-streams, and departments.

How escape rooms encourage communication + morale:


- Informal Setting: The novelty reduces hierarchical boundaries, encouraging open interaction.

- Shared Experiences: Working through challenges together builds a collective narrative.

- Stress Reduction: It’s so easy to lose yourself (and the stresses of your workday) when playing immersive games like these.

- Fun: Above all else, escape rooms are bound to make participants enjoy themselves and laugh!


Lasting Impressions and Next Steps


In conclusion, escape rooms are a brilliant tool for team building, with benefits that will last long after your team have solved their final puzzle. Individual skills and attributes are sharpened, unseen potential gets recognised, and – most importantly – teams come together and bond while having lots of fun. So if you’re looking into your next corporate event, and don’t want to be a Brent, why not give escape rooms a go? If you’ve decided to make an escape room your team-building activity of choice near Edinburgh, The Department of Magic has got you covered! Here's a word from our resident escape room expert, Liam Smith, on the benefits we've seen: "The Department of Magic Escape Rooms have seen their fair share of teams from every spectrum from family groups to first dates however where I find the most engaging groups always come from corporate team building events.

We have worked with a wide range of organisations including the Man United under 18's in team building exercises and also suggest the Escape rooms as they require participants to collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve under pressure.

The immersive nature of our rooms encourages individuals to trust one another's abilities, promoting teamwork and fostering a sense of accomplishment when they successfully escape."


We have two escape rooms to choose from, each containing a different set of puzzles, so you can run two teams simultaneously or even book a return visit as a team incentive. Our Magic Potions Tavern also makes for a great, welcoming watering-hole where you can debrief with a cocktail or two.  Plus, we have more than 2,000 5-star reviews, so you know you’re booking an experience your colleagues will love!


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