If you’re looking for something new and fun to do with friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else, a fun alternative to seeing a movie or going bowling is going to an escape room. Escape rooms are cooperative puzzle rooms, where you must work together with a small team to look for clues, solve puzzles, and put all the pieces together to escape in 60 minutes or less. The combination of cooperative problem solving and being engrossed in the engaging settings and themes make for a fun, unique activity that you’ll remember long after your hour is up. One of the best parts about escape rooms is that they can have long-term benefits as well. The things you learn from escape rooms — like communication skills, breaking into and working in small teams, and solving problems in creative ways — will stick with you long after your time is up and you return to the real world.
Having watched hundreds of groups go through our rooms at Escapeocity in Palatine, I can say that the most important thing that makes the difference between escaping and not is communication, especially in the bigger groups of 8-10 people. There are a lot of moving parts in our rooms- some puzzles lead to other puzzles and some stand on their own. Some require multiple people to solve, and some are easier with just one person. Communication is a constant necessity because of the time constraint. If someone solves a puzzle alone but doesn’t tell anyone, it could use up a lot of time as the rest of the group tries to solve the next puzzle. If they aren’t confident in their answer or don’t tell the group what they got, it can even lead to another person in the group solving the same puzzle on their own for a second time. This can cause a critical amount of lost time. When this happens, however, it doesn’t take long for most groups to realize the importance of communication, and start sharing their ideas and solutions with each other for greater success. Escape rooms are a fun way to introduce communication skills to a team that they can then take with them and bring back to the workplace.
Another valuable skill that can be honed in escape rooms that goes hand in hand with communication is organization. Our rooms have a lot of separate puzzles and clues that are scattered all around the room. There are books, locked boxes, paper instructions, keys, and many more separate components that all need to be combined to find success in the room. Keeping track of what keys have already been used, what puzzles have already been cracked, and which mysteries remain unsolved is incredibly important. Successful groups will find ways to group solved puzzles and unsolved puzzles so they can focus on things they haven’t used to move forward in the room. This is often something like “Ok, everything we put on THIS table we’ve already used, and everything over HERE we haven’t used yet.” Developing a system like this and communicating how that system works to the rest of your group is very helpful for escape rooms, as well as through many other aspects of work and everyday life.
Something that is a big part of both the communication and organization skills involved in conquering live escape games is being able to break up into and work in small team environments. Our Time Machine room is recommended for 2-8 people and our Defuse room is recommended for 4-10 people. However, it’s unlikely that a group will get all the way through one of our rooms if all 8 or all 10 people are always working on the same problem. It’s best for groups to be flexible, and to constantly be forming small groups to work on different puzzles. There are simply too many things to get done for one person or one group to solve on their own. The flexibility learned from the varied situations presented in escape rooms can prove invaluable in corporate team environments as well, where delegation of small tasks is integral to the success of team projects.
Finally, one of the most valuable takeaways from time spent in an escape room is the ability to creatively solve problems. Some puzzles are very straightforward, and will present you with a math or logic problem in which you need to fill in the blanks. Some puzzles are much less straightforward- they require moving objects around the room, putting things together that seem completely separate, and looking at things from multiple angles (literally and figuratively!). Having people with different backgrounds and different perspectives is a great boon to get through our rooms. Finding creative solutions to the problems presented is necessary, and can teach participants to look at problems with fresh eyes and from new angles that they wouldn’t expect. This skill applies to much more than opening locked boxes and solving logic puzzles- being able to creatively approach difficult tasks is an extremely useful talent to bring back to the workplace.
The need for communication, organization, group cooperation, and creative problem solving make escape rooms a valuable teaching tool for any group of people looking to strengthen their teamwork and problem-solving abilities. If any of these skills seem like things that might be valuable to you in the corporate world or even in everyday life (and they should!), then consider booking a room at www.escapeocity.com for your next corporate outing or other group event!