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Get me out of here! Should you try an escape room for your next company event?

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There was a time when the phrase “team building event” was enough to strike fear into the heart of any office worker.

Images of enforced hilarity as reluctant workers tried to sing like Bonnie Tyler or channel their inner Bear Grylls on an assault course meant the “prior arrangements” came thick and fast, and a sudden outbreak of sick grannies was guaranteed.

Fortunately, times have changed, and employers have got wise to two things. The first is that in today’s business world, team dynamics are more important than ever and can spell the difference between success and failure. The other is that to make those teams coalesce, they need to come up with team building events that people will look forward to and get something out of, as opposed to things they will dread and avoid like the plague.

Team building that works

This is why we have seen a surge in new types of team building activities becoming available. Sure, there are some people who like nothing better than to sing or to challenge themselves physically. For others, cooking challenges, sporting events or just a night out for a few drinks together will work better.

The key to a successful team building day is to get the participants involved in the selection of the event, rather than to force it upon them. An escape room is one of the latest trends in team building events. It is one that has a growing appeal among organisers, and more importantly, among participants.

What is an escape room?

Anyone who enjoyed watching TV shows like The Crystal Maze or Fort Boyard will immediately recognise the concept of an escape room. The concept was expanded from TV entertainment to something anyone can try with the first escape room that opened in Japan in 2007. The concept soon spread worldwide, and companies like Now Escape provide London escape rooms as well as escape rooms in other towns and cities across the UK.

Each escape room has its own particular theme. You might find yourself in a futuristic world, or a jungle environment or on a pirate ship, for example. You and your team then have an hour to examine your surroundings, make sense of the clues and work out what you have to do to get out.

Universal appeal

One of the major advantages of an escape room over other types of team building activity is that it has broad appeal. Age and fitness are irrelevant, and the more retiring team members will feel just as at ease as those who are more gregarious and outgoing. Leaders and followers, the physically strong and those who are better at mental agility – there is an opportunity for each person to showcase his or her particular skill, and to develop new ones.

Most important of all, though, is that this kind of event is one in which success depends on all those skills being brought together, to make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. And that is the essence of an effective and cohesive team.

An event for all seasons

The other major factor that escape rooms have in their favour is that this is one event that the unpredictable British climate cannot ruin. It also means it is something that can be considered at any time of year – perhaps an escape room could be an innovative alternative to the traditional office party when the festive season comes around this year. Now is the perfect time to float the idea with the workforce.

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