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Escape Rooms Are Something Your Team Can't Escape

It's time for some team building at work, but it's also the 21st Century so trust falls and sharing circles won't work. What's a back-biting work team to do?

Well, you can always lock yourselves in a room together to see if you can escape together!

"Escape rooms" have been trendy for awhile now, and escaping takes teamwork. In the process, you'll get to know your colleagues' strengths and weaknesses that you already know from working with them every day.

Race To Escape
Escape room companies around the country are offering a wide variety of escape experiences. They're hard to (pun intended) escape these days. In the Detroit area, you can look for the new Harry Potter-themed escape room. Las Vegas has some new movie-inspired escape rooms opening soon. There are gamer-themed escape rooms galore, and reality show-themed escape rooms. You can even find escape rooms at the local mall.

This whole concept sounds very familiar. Where have I seen it before? Oh, yes: the Science Channel show, Race To Escape! In the show, two groups of strangers are locked in two separate-but-identical rooms and their job is to figure out how to escape the room in time. Here is how the show's website explains it:

In Science Channel's psychological game show RACE TO ESCAPE, hosted by Jimmy Pardo, contestants are armed with only their minds and knowledge as they race against the clock and an opposing team to solve puzzles and unravel cryptic clues hidden inside themed escape rooms. On the other side of the door is a cash prize of $25,000, and as the clock ticks away, so does the cash.

It's fun to watch -- on television. But what about in real life? Would you really want to be locked in close quarters will all of your teammates?

On a good note, making your escape as a team could lead to much-needed insights regarding individual leadership skills, ability to work under pressure, general tolerance for the co-worker who never wears deodorant, and a willingness to tune out the co-worker who won't stop humming Adele songs.

Getting To Know You
Once a work team manages to escape, they get to look back on the experience. What could they have done better/faster/slower? Who took charge, and who followed up the rear? Were there things the team could have done in hindsight that would have helped move things along faster? What does each team member see as their biggest mistake? And how does this experience reflect the team's day-to-day working relationship?

Along the way, remember to praise the teammates who ended up playing a minor, supporting role. In our haste to do some 20/20 hindsight on the Type A teammates who stepped up to lead, we can forget about the Type B teammates who played supporting roles that proved essential to the team's success. Their wins are the quiet wins, so be sure to acknowledge everyone individually for their contribution to the overall effort. All jobs are important jobs.

An escape room could be enlightening, as long as it's all done in good fun, nobody on the team is claustrophobic, and the goal is to help everyone work better together. Because zip lining is so 2015.


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