Employees often dread traditional forms of team building. Heading off to a ropes course to flail about in the rain for a day in the hope that it will rebuild some bridges between team members and liven up the office spirit doesn’t inspire much excitement in today’s workers. They’re used to high octane digital entertainment and problem solving games are just a touch away on their mobile devices.
For those reasons we’re seeing corporate team building companies developing more immersive experiences, some of which are so good that people actually choose to go on them for fun as well as when forced by their companies. The Chicago Tribune reports that one such trend is Escape Rooms, which they note have been popular nationally for a while but are relatively new to Chicago.
Escape room staff members either observe players problem-solving from inside the room or outside through camera surveillance, and can offer evaluations or group-led discussions following players’ escape, assessing how well the players collaborated with each other to survive.
The events are run in Chicago by a company called Bucket List Productions who focus on making the events as much like participating in a TV adventure show as possible, rather than a simple puzzle solving experience.
Naturally the corporate attendees are evaluated and given the opportunity to discuss their team building efforts, skills and experiences after the event, but that isn’t putting off casual attendees with it being reported that everything from birthday parties to hen parties are taking advantage of the facilities.
It’s not just in Chicago that escape rooms are becoming popular for team building activities, a new start up is taking them to the road allowing companies to schedule the events conveniently and in their parking lot, rather than taking the employees out on the road to an event location. The Angus Leader reports that in the coming weeks The Escape Unit will be coming to Kansas and the surrounding area with a fun Area 51 theme.
The props in many of the more modern escape rooms are often digital rather than the traditional hand-held puzzles and physical keys, which adds a lot more opportunity to vary the experience, difficulty and objectives to cater for different groups and to keep the experience fresh, which is important for large companies where employees may chat about the event between visits from different groups.
Just like in Chicago, the mobile units often attract parties as well as corporate events, a sure sign that the activity has crossed the ‘fun’ threshold where employee engagement with the event and enthusiasm about taking part will be at the highest, making them ideal events for human resources managers looking to freshen up their approach to team building.
You bring up a good point that escape rooms provide people with an experience they want to go to for fun as well as team building since it is an immersive experience. It’s important that employees get to know each other in more casual circumstances like this. I think there are a lot of ways these escape rooms can also improve trust and friendships for coworkers which will carry over and benefit the workplace.