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Are your teams ready for this next corporate team building craze?

Team building has been high on the HR agenda for as long as it has been called HR

Outward bound courses, table-top exercises, sporting activities – these have all been used at one time or another to help team members to bond and work more effectively together. Now there is a new kid on the team building block, so let’s take a look.

Escape rooms started to gain popularity in the 2010s and their popularity is still on the rise. According to the BBC, there were only seven in the UK in 2013; now, there are 100+. In essence, players are required to solve puzzles by using a range of clues and strategy within a pre-determined time frame to be able to escape.

They consist of either one single room or a number of linked rooms. The point for team building is that the skills required to break out of the escape room are the same skills required in the workplace: problem solving, resourcefulness, and perhaps a little lateral thinking.

Some big household names have sent teams to escape rooms, with some escape room hosts publishing league tables naming their clients and their rankings. This is great for the competitive amongst us, but perhaps demotivating for others.

One of the benefits of escape rooms seems to be that, in common with other team building exercises, you can put people who would not normally work together in one team, thereby fostering inter-departmental relations. They work together and bond because whatever the logic, our pre-historic brains think we really are prisoners in a room from which we are struggling to escape. This heightened emotion is an excellent way of getting people to connect.

Games differ from escape room to escape room, from overthrown to witchcraft and wizardry and escape from Alcatraz. These are all designed to make participants get into the role and think about what they have to do. Aside from personal preference, it probably does not matter which game people play.

Escape room hosts report high numbers of re-bookings and high satisfaction rates from both participants and the companies that send them. To put the minds of those of us who watch too much television and fear that we will never get out alive at rest, players can ask for help. Most escape rooms monitor players on CCTV, so they know in advance what is going on and if anyone should be in any distress.

Games are timed, so players would be expected to exit the escape room when their time is up, even if they have not answered all the clues, which effectively means they have not escaped. Depending on the time of day, prices start from around £25 per person.

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