When historians look back at the late 2010s, “escape room” will be up there with “smashed avocado” as a defining craze. There’s no shortage of companies offering themed escape games, and they’re a great choice for teambuilding that demands lateral thinking
Q What can you do?
Escape rooms take their cue from TV shows such as The Crystal Maze. There’s usually a theme and a backstory: participants may have to take on the role of detectives trying to crack a case, astronauts trapped in a space station or raiders of an Egyptian temple.
Once “locked in”, they must work together, solving challenges to gain freedom.
Keith Afadi is Events and Marketing Manager at clueQuest (07798 772382, cluequest.co.uk). Four espionage-themed games are available at its escape rooms in North London. He says: “The immersivity of the experience is great, because people forget they’re doing a teambuilding exercise and really get stuck in. Communication is very important – people who haven’t really got acquainted come out feeling they know each other – and you soon find out which people are geared for different types of thinking.”
Other outfits offering corporate escape games include Escape Reality (escapereality.com) and Escape Live (escapelive.co.uk), both with multiple UK locations.
Q Where can you do it?
You’ll find a good choice of games in almost every part of the UK. Quality can be variable, so it’s worth scouting for recommendations. There are also companies operating mobile games, such as Escape Game Events (0330 133 1479, escapegameevents.co.uk) and Green Hat People (020 7118 1997, greenhatpeople.com).
Q What are the risks?
Those with claustrophobia may be wary of taking part, but unless you opt for a scenario that ramps up the “imprisonment” premise, there won’t be any more sense of confinement than being in an office. Some providers are geared to players with disabilities or limited mobility. Mr Afidi says: “We offer wheelchair access, we have facilities for hard-of-hearing people, and we’ve integrated seating into our rooms for those who have trouble standing for too long.”
Q What will the business get out of it?
Players are taken outside their comfort zones and have to work together. It’s great for upending office hierarchies and getting a new perspective on team members’ strengths and capabilities.
Some companies even use escape rooms for recruitment and more structured learning and development. Mr Afidi says: “As well as teambuilding experiences, we offer the clueQuest assessment programme (CAP). Assessors observe each player and the team as a whole, measuring five core competencies: leadership, team work, attitude, communication and problem solving.”
Q What does it cost?
With a vast range of providers, it pays to shop around – but it’s not an expensive option. At clueQuest, teambuilding games of one hour (plus briefing and debrief) work out at £30pp during peak times, and £25pp off peak; assessment sessions start at £100pp. The sales team can negotiate a rate for large groups and bespoke experiences.