Educated Team-Building Exercises: Designated Fun Or Disguised Frustration?

Educated Team-Building Exercises Designated Fun Or Disguised Frustration
Viacheslav Nikolaenko/
Summary: Point-blank: going to a team-building event, whether it is with work, for a representative sports team, or some therapy-infused milieu, can conjure up a deluge of angst and other stressful emotions.

Escape Rooms: An Alternative To Traditional Team-Building Activities

Those awkward meet-and-greet exercises at every work convention ever and the customer service role-plays, no thank you! Couch-potato cartoons all weekend sound much more appealing, let’s be honest. But what if there is a better alternative, there has to be, right? One that will still accomplish the results the boss/coach/court-appointed counselor is looking for but is actually fun and entertaining too. Why not? The team-building budget is already allocated; it should be money well spent, right?

The Money Idea

Even if your childhood dream is to perform on-stage in the West End, committing yourself to an "imagine you are driving a car and need fuel’' cue without even so much as a cardboard car to propel you into the scene is futility at its most frustrating. There you sit on a metal fold-up chair in pretense, oversteering your "little deuce coupe," imaginary wind in your hair, when your invisible fuel light goes on. You probably don’t care that this scenario is painstakingly about the customer care and dynamic add-on sales tactics of the forecourt attendant servicing your thirsty Mercedes.

Because what you desire is to be entertained. Fair enough, it may not be your time on the clock that is ticking by, but it is your effort and attention on demand. So, better than a "naff" attempt at employee engagement, which at best is a solitary effort to swallow your self-pride, engage the senses of your entire team together.

What about escape rooms? Who doesn’t like to engage their brain and show off their intelligence while working together with their team, especially if it is in the name of healthy competition and if there are prizes at stake? (There must be prizes, oh yes.) Escape room scenarios organically create opportunities to team build in a new way. It is difficult, if not nigh on impossible, to fully commit to the idea of cheesy role-play scenarios that are forced from uninspired, black-on-white, Times New Roman text. Just don’t do it!

Team-Building Exercises: What Escape Rooms Offer

Escape rooms offer education and growth of new brain synapses through puzzled engagement, cryptic clues, and real (that’s a relative term) beat-the-buzzer action. The game forces you to think, rethink, and then be innovative and think outside the square. Feel free to pace and retrace your steps, whatever gets the creative juices flowing (and satisfy your fit watch daily step count). Escape rooms offer the chance to get that breath of fresh air, to get out of the office and physically go to a venue (there are in-house options too). Everything is all set up for team infiltration and hostile take over. There is something for everyone to contribute, from the tongue-twisting poet, literature major, history buff, mathematician, Dr. Factoid—the useless information/trivia nerd—to the "Sunday Times" word-puzzler.

No matter what your hidden talent is, if you think you don’t have one you’re wrong, your special strength will be revealed. Perhaps your skill is that you have tiny fingers to unravel the tiniest threads, you’re good at mazes or visual conundrums, perhaps something your read just doesn’t sound right, or perhaps you have always been good at snooping around your grandmother’s house for stashed treasure…you can be yourself. The room will silence you, speak to you and encourage revelations of what you—the team "you"—collectively know, and lend you a voice and platform to apply that unified knowledge for the greater good.

There is an opportunity for choice between a variety of exciting escape themes. You might be thrown into a world of espionage, become a spy, cabaret queen, sinister magician, or bootlegging gangster. There may even be an opportunity for cosplay. Sign you up, you say? (Hot tip: you can go full immersion by creating an alter ego for yourself/your team. Have your resident "writer-at-heart" colleague pen a creative backstory to go with the theme, and cosplay ’til your heart’s content.)

You will have a chance for a group memento for the office newsletter further cultivating your team culture. And, but not all the potential an escape room offers, it is easy to follow an escape game with crudités and carbonated beverages, either back at the office, the bosses palatial mansion, or you can ask your escape room venue guru. They may have a private room or some partnerships with local restaurants, etc.

The Bottom Line

Escape rooms are designed to provoke thought, engage the senses, promote teamwork, and reach success as a cohesive group. It brings you out, the leaders, group motivators and team cheerleaders, the worker bees and probably even the queen bee, revealing insights into how you structure or restructure team dynamics in the office hive to create the happiest hum.