escape room teambuilding

Did your last escape room team building fall flat?

This post could've been titled "Why You Probably Didn’t Get the Most Out of Your Last Escape Room Team Building Exercise and How to Do It Better Next Time".

Escape the 'Meh': Revitalizing Your Team Building Experience

Picture this: Your office decides to take a stab at an escape room for a team-building exercise. Everyone’s excited, maybe a little nervous, but ready for a fun day out of the office. Fast forward an hour, and you’re all stuck in a faux Egyptian tomb, your boss is insisting on a clearly incorrect solution to a hieroglyphic puzzle, and the intern is too intimidated to speak up about the obvious clue they’ve found. The clock ticks down, and you’re all “trapped” in the room. The team morale? Well, let’s just say it’s seen better days.


Sounds like a disaster, right? Well, you’re not alone. Many teams dive headfirst into escape rooms only to find themselves floundering, not due to a lack of effort, but a lack of strategy. But here’s the kicker: when done right, escape rooms can be a game-changer for team building. They’re like a gym for your teamwork muscles, a boot camp for your brain, a… well, you get the idea.


Escape rooms have the potential to supercharge communication, skyrocket employee engagement, and unleash a torrent of creative thinking and problem-solving. But to tap into this potential, you need to approach it with a game plan. So, buckle up and get ready as we guide you on how to turn your next escape room experience from a flop to a triumph that will have your team begging for more!



The Missed Opportunity: Pre-Arrival Discussions

Setting the Stage: The Importance of Pre-Arrival Discussions

Before stepping foot into the escape room, it’s crucial to have a pre-arrival discussion with your team. This isn’t just a casual chat about what to expect; it’s a strategic conversation that sets the stage for a successful team-building exercise.

Setting Expectations: Understanding Escape Rooms

Firstly, setting expectations is key. For those unfamiliar with escape rooms, provide a brief overview of what they are and the kind of challenges they’ll face. This isn’t about spoiling the fun with too many details; it’s about ensuring everyone is on the same page.  

Role Assignment: Embracing Adaptability

Next, discuss potential roles within the team. This could include a leader, a timekeeper, a clue finder, and so on. But remember, these roles aren’t set in stone. In fact, one of the beautiful things about escape rooms is how they encourage adaptability. Team members might find themselves switching roles in the heat of the moment, mirroring the dynamic nature of real-world work environments.

Real-World Parallels: The Benefits of Escape Rooms

These discussions can also help employees see the benefits of the exercise in the workplace. By drawing parallels between the skills needed in the escape room and those needed in their jobs, you can help them understand that this activity is about more than just having fun – it’s about improving communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.

Practical Tips for Pre-Arrival Discussions

When conducting these pre-arrival discussions, there are a few practical tips to keep in mind. Ensure everyone has a chance to voice their thoughts and concerns, making the discussion as inclusive as possible. Try to make the discussion relevant to the team’s everyday work life. This could involve discussing how the skills developed in the escape room can be applied in the workplace.

Empowering the Team: The Role of Supervisors

One crucial aspect is getting buy-in from supervisors. Encourage them to let other team members step up and take the lead during the escape room activity. This is a chance for them to be a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage”, fostering a sense of empowerment among the team.

Post-Game Reflection: Consolidating the Lessons Learned

Finally, plan for a post-game discussion to reflect on the experience and lessons learned. This will help consolidate the skills developed during the escape room and apply them to the workplace.

Additional Considerations for Office Managers and HR Departments

For office managers and HR departments, there are a few additional considerations. Choose a time for the pre-arrival discussion when everyone can attend, assign a facilitator to keep the discussion focused and productive, and collect feedback after the escape room experience to continuously improve future team-building activities. By taking these steps, you can ensure your team gets the most out of their escape room experience.

Tying in Business Challenges

Time Management: A Shared Challenge

In the high-pressure environment of a small office, time management is often a critical challenge. Let’s consider the example of a dental office. Every minute counts, from scheduling appointments to performing procedures and managing administrative tasks. Before stepping into the escape room, a team might discuss this issue, setting the stage for the activity. The escape room, with its ticking clock and series of tasks to be accomplished within a set timeframe, mirrors the time-sensitive nature of a dental practice. It’s a prime opportunity for the team to think creatively and collaboratively about managing time more efficiently.


Education: Deciphering Clues and Explaining Procedures

But the parallels between escape rooms and business challenges don’t stop there. Continuing with our dental practice example, consider the task of educating patients, another common issue. In an escape room, deciphering clues and solving puzzles is a key part of the game. This process can be likened to explaining complex dental procedures to patients. The team can use the escape room experience to brainstorm innovative ways to break down complex information, making it easier for patients to understand.


Applying Escape Room Strategies to Patient Education

For instance, a dental team might draw parallels between a puzzle in the escape room that required decoding a complex clue and the challenge of explaining a dental procedure to a patient. This could lead to new ideas for patient education, such as using visual aids or analogies to make complex procedures more understandable.


Escape Rooms: More Than Just Team-Building

The potential benefits of this approach are manifold. Not only can it lead to improved problem-solving skills and a better understanding of team dynamics, but it can also help the team engage more deeply with the challenges they face in their work. By tying in these real-world business challenges, an escape room can become more than just a team-building exercise – it can be a springboard for tangible improvements in the workplace.


Arrival and Start of the Game: Things to Think About

Setting the Stage: Arrival at the Escape Room

Arriving at the escape room, the anticipation builds. This is where the rubber meets the road. But before you dive into the game, it’s crucial to set the stage. A thorough briefing is essential to understand the rules of the game and the objectives you need to achieve. Approach the game with an open mind and a readiness to collaborate. Remember, an escape room is not just about escaping; it’s about working together as a team to solve a series of puzzles.


Mindset Matters: Encouraging Teamwork and Cooperation

Mindset matters a great deal in an escape room. The right mindset can mean the difference between a chaotic, every-person-for-themselves scramble and a well-coordinated effort that utilizes the strengths of every team member. Encourage your team to focus on teamwork, communication, and creative problem-solving. While a bit of competitiveness can add to the fun, cooperation is the key to success in an escape room.


Linking the Game to Business Challenges

As you start the game, remember the business challenge you discussed before arrival. Keep it in the back of your mind as you navigate the puzzles and challenges of the escape room. Try to draw parallels between the game’s puzzles and the business challenge. For instance, a puzzle that requires effective communication might remind you of the need for clear communication in managing your dental practice. Use the game as a source of inspiration for problem-solving.


Maximizing the Value of Your Escape Room Experience

By keeping these things in mind, you can ensure that your escape room experience is not just fun, but also a valuable opportunity for team building and problem-solving.


Post-Game Debrief: What Worked and What Didn’t

Post-Game Debrief: Reflecting on Strategies and Dynamics

Once the clock stops ticking and the adrenaline subsides, it’s time for arguably one of the most valuable parts of the escape room experience: the post-game debrief. This is where the team can reflect on the puzzle-solving strategies used during the game. What approaches led to breakthroughs? Which ones led to dead ends? Discussing and analyzing these strategies can provide valuable insights into your team’s problem-solving dynamics, revealing strengths to be leveraged and weaknesses to be addressed.


Understanding Roles: From the Escape Room to the Workplace

Next, consider the roles that team members naturally fell into during their escape room team building experience. Who emerged as a leader? Who was the keen observer spotting clues that others missed? Who was the mediator, ensuring everyone’s ideas were heard? Understanding these roles can provide a wealth of information about your team’s dynamics and the unique strengths each individual brings to the table.


Translating Lessons to the Workplace: Leveraging Potential and Enhancing Performance

But don’t stop at the escape room door. Take these insights back to the workplace. Compare the roles team members took on in the escape room to their roles at work. Perhaps the quiet analyst who usually keeps to the background showed great leadership potential in the escape room. Or maybe the team leader demonstrated a knack for creative problem-solving they don’t usually get to showcase in their day-to-day tasks. This comparison can help identify potential areas for growth and development in the work context. It can also highlight skills and talents that may be underutilized in the workplace. By translating the lessons learned in the escape room to the work environment, you can leverage the full potential of your team and enhance your workplace performance.


Applying the Lessons to the Workplace

From Game to Workplace: Applying the Lessons Learned

The real power of an escape room team-building exercise lies not just in the experience itself, but in the lessons that can be carried back to the workplace. Once the game is over and the initial debrief has taken place, it’s time to delve deeper into how the experience can inform and improve your team’s approach to their work.


Stimulating Creative Thinking and Collaborative Problem-Solving

Start by facilitating a focused discussion on potential solutions to the business challenge that was discussed before the game. This is where the creativity and problem-solving skills honed in the escape room can really shine. Encourage each team member to share their ideas, no matter how out-of-the-box they may seem. Remember, the goal is not necessarily to come up with a perfect solution on the spot, but to stimulate creative thinking and collaborative problem-solving. The escape room experience has primed your team for this – they’ve just spent an hour or so thinking creatively to solve puzzles, after all.


Individual Reflection: Fostering Personal Growth and Development

Next, encourage each team member to reflect on their personal experience in the escape room. Ask them to share one thing they learned, did, or thought during the game that they can apply to their jobs. This could be anything from a new problem-solving technique they discovered, to a realization about the importance of clear communication, or an appreciation for the diverse skills and perspectives within the team. This individual reflection can foster personal growth and development, and help each team member see the value in the escape room experience.


Boosting Workplace Performance: The Impact of Escape Room Lessons

Finally, consider the potential impact of these lessons on workplace performance. The skills honed in the escape room – teamwork, communication, problem-solving, creativity – are all highly transferable to the workplace. By applying these lessons, your team can enhance their collaboration, improve their problem-solving capabilities, and boost overall productivity. Moreover, the escape room experience can foster a stronger team dynamic, leading to a more positive and effective work environment. Team members who have learned to value each other’s strengths and work together effectively in the escape room are likely to carry these positive interactions into their everyday work.


Conclusion: Maximizing the Benefit of the Escape Room Experience

In conclusion, an escape room is more than just a fun team-building activity. It’s a unique opportunity to develop valuable skills, foster a strong team dynamic, and stimulate creative thinking about real-world business challenges. By taking the time to reflect on and apply the lessons learned, you can ensure that your team gets the maximum benefit from the experience.


Reigniting Excitement for Escape Rooms

Addressing Past Issues: Constructive Feedback for Improvement

If your team’s previous escape room experience left something to be desired, it’s essential to address this head-on. Ignoring any negative feelings or brushing them under the rug won’t make them disappear. Instead, acknowledge these feelings openly. Discuss what went wrong and why, and turn these into constructive feedback for improvement. This can help clear the air and show your team that their feelings and experiences are valued and taken into account.

Presenting a New Approach: Building Stronger Team Dynamics

Next, it’s time to present the new and improved approach to escape room team building. Communicate clearly about the changes you’re making, such as the pre-arrival discussions, the focus on real-world business challenges, and the post-game debrief. Highlight the potential benefits and lessons to be learned from the experience. Show your team that this isn’t just about escaping a room – it’s about building stronger team dynamics, improving problem-solving skills, and applying these lessons to the workplace.

Reigniting Excitement: Ensuring a Positive Experience

Finally, get your team excited about escape rooms again. Share success stories of teams who have benefited from this improved approach. Introduce new and exciting escape room themes that your team can look forward to. Consider offering positive reinforcement or incentives for participation, such as recognizing the team’s achievements in the escape room at a company meeting or rewarding the team with a celebratory meal after the game.

Pre-Arrival Materials: Starting the Team-Building Process Early

At Exit Lab, we offer pre-arrival materials.  They’ll help your team get ready for a thrilling adventure even before you step foot in our escape room. Our pre-arrival materials are designed to get your team’s gears turning and communication flowing. Expect a cryptic puzzle that will require your collective brainpower to solve. And that’s not all – we’ve also included other fun and interactive activities to help you learn about each other’s strengths and problem-solving styles. This isn’t just about preparing for the escape room – it’s about starting the team-building process from the moment you sign up.

Arrival and Workshop-Style Talk: An Immersive Experience

As you arrive at Exit Lab Houston, brace yourself for an energetic introduction that will set the stage for your escape room mission. We’ll brief you on the challenges ahead and equip you with some special tips to help you sustain your progress throughout the game. Our workshop-style talk isn’t just a briefing – it’s an immersive experience designed to get your team spirit soaring.

Post-Game Debrief: Reflect, Learn, and Celebrate

Post-Game Debrief: After the game, it’s time to reflect, learn, and celebrate. Our post-game debrief kicks off with a lively group discussion facilitated by our charismatic host. Then, get ready for our ‘lessons learned’ game show, where you’ll compete to identify the most important takeaways from the experience. We’ll wrap up with a team unity challenge – one final puzzle to solve together.

our c.l.u.e.s. experience

The Journey: More Than Just a Game

Our enhanced Escape Room Team Building Experience is more than just a game – it’s a journey of communication, learning, unity, execution, and sustainment. We can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself!

Debunking the Myth: The Power of Escape Rooms

In this guide, we’ve taken a deep dive into the world of escape room team building, exploring how to get the most out of your experience. We’ve debunked the myth that escape rooms are just about solving puzzles and escaping a room. Instead, we’ve shown how they can be powerful tools for enhancing communication, fostering learning, promoting unity, executing effectively, and sustaining progress – the pillars of our unique “CLUES” method.

Transformative Team-Building: The CLUES Method

If your last escape room experience left you feeling underwhelmed, we encourage you to give it another try. This time, approach it strategically. Use it as an opportunity to tackle real business challenges, to learn about your team, and to grow together. With the right mindset and approach, an escape room can be a transformative team-building experience.

Invitation to Unlock Your Team’s Potential

Ready to put the “CLUES” method to the test? We invite you to book your next team-building event with us at Exit Lab Houston. For more information, visit our website at If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]. We can’t wait to help your team unlock its full potential!

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