Improving Corporate Team Performance using Escape Rooms

Nov 8, 2018

Escape rooms aren’t just fun and games. They are a tool to improve a team’s communication, collaboration and performance.

Exceptional leaders foster a collaborative work environment to elicit outstanding team performance.  Many of those effective leaders tailor their environment to their team’s specific needs.  For instance, one manager may seek to foster cooperation within groups that are not working well together.  Alternately, a second manager may look to build collaboration in response to an organizational change.  In contrast, a third manager may aim to transform a team from good to great.  Increasingly, all three managers find a common solution – they are utilizing escape rooms to enhance their team and improve organizational performance.

Several characteristics of escape rooms make them the ideal tool to support the collaborative environment to which managers aspire.

Escape Rooms Focus on the Team

Escape rooms reward the involvement of all team members in solving puzzles and completing the room.  Due to the shared mission – and the pressure of a ticking clock – team members invest and engage in solving the room.  Ultimately, it takes a team effort to solve a room. Only through the pooled resources and efforts of individuals will the team succeed.

Escape Rooms Equalize Players

Escape rooms push teams to get the best from each team member. Solving an escape room requires open sharing and input, equalizing players, and decentralizing leadership.  Leadership roles are defined in the room and can change during the course of the game.  The even footing for players within an escape rooms creates “psychological safety” for team members.  Notably, Google has identified psychological safety as the most important work style characteristic of effective teams.  Team success – in business and in the escape room – depends on all members freely sharing thoughts, observations, and conjecture. By sharing openly in an escape room, a team is practicing a valuable skill and building psychological safety.

Escape Rooms Highlight Individual Strengths

Escape rooms call on various strengths, from keen observation and analytical skills to language, communication, and organizing talents.  As a result, every individual can use their personal strengths to create results for the team.  Every player gains confidence by bringing unique insights, perspectives and contributions to the team.  Furthermore, other team members directly observe the individual’s strength in action. This can lead to increased collaboration and additional engagement for that individual back in the office.  Overall, this experience improves team chemistry and performance.

Escape Rooms Value Individual Differences

Since different puzzles play to different strengths, diverse teams often perform better than teams that are more homogenous. As a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, this mirrors what I’ve experienced in the corporate environment.  Teams with representation across executing, influencing, relationship building, and thinking talent domains – when empowered to embrace individual differences – establish a superior foundation for high-performance. As a result, escape rooms demonstrate and reinforce this simple truism: “differences are good”.

Escape Rooms Reward Collaboration

Collaboration, in the context of a business team, is characterized by several elements:

  • open and effective communication
  • sharing of context, knowledge, and analysis
  • combining input from many to arrive at an improved outcome for the team

Similarly, an escape room requires teams to communicate, share and collaborate in order to succeed and escape.  Players call out observations for the benefit of the team. They share conjecture about ways to solve puzzles. And puzzles often require multiple players to combine forces for a solution.  As a result, escape rooms are great places to build and reinforce the principles of team collaboration.

Escape Rooms Create Shared Experiences

Team members come together on a common mission, face intense time pressure, and collaborate to solve the various challenges.  The excitement, urgency, and satisfaction that comes from playing a room creates a shared experience, and a point of connection among the players.  This sense of shared experience makes an escape room far more than a social interaction.  Instead, teams bond through the value of joint effort in achieving a common goal.

Escape Rooms are Fun

An escape room brings out the best in a team member, enabling individual strengths to shine.  It brings out the best in the team, empowering collaboration and allowing connections to flourish.  Above all, it achieves these impacts while providing an activity that people LOVE to do!  The reaction from revealing a hidden compartment or solving a tough puzzle make these games powerful.  The excitement, pressure, challenge, and satisfaction of “beating” a room is a reward for your team – and one that can yield improved chemistry, communication, and performance for your business.