Teamwork is an essential ingredient in any business initiative, which is why many companies strive to improve the collaborative process through team-building exercises. This is especially applicable to PR, where a campaign’s success hinges on excellent communication and coordination.

In a previous blog, we detailed the saga of Foxy Voxy, the robot Voxus staffers assembled over several weeks using recycled scrap materials. Alas, she was recently retired… and beheaded. But the point is, it was an excellent team-building exercise designed to sharpen our collaboration skills.foxyvoxyhead

Recently, I learned of another team-building activity that is quickly gaining popularity among corporate circles. It’s called an Escape Room, and this new breed of attraction is suddenly popping up all over the world.

The concept is simple: your team is locked in a themed room for an hour, and must find and solve a series of riddles, clues and brain-teasers to eventually recover the key that lets you escape. Fail to open the door before the timer runs out, and you DIE A TERRIBLE DEATH! Well, not really, but that’s generally the premise of the story.

Always one to be the guinea pig, I set out to try one of these Escape Rooms myself. I went to Puzzle Break in Seattle to try out their Escape from 20,000 Leagues, a Jules Verne-inspired submarine adventure where you must flee the ship before you sink below to a watery grave. I’m not supposed to reveal anything about the puzzles themselves, but suffice to say they’re far from no-brainers. Generally, only a small percentage of players ever make it out.

Examples of why this game perfectly translates to the world of PR:

  1. It requires quick, critical thinking. You must be decisive under pressure.
  2. Tenacity and stick-to-it-iveness are critical attributes when faced with frustrating dead ends and setbacks.
  3. The exercise helps identify leaders in your group. Who takes charge and unites the team when the action gets chaotic? Who delegates responsibility?
  4. Communication is critical. When every second counts, can you succinctly and convincingly convey your idea how to solve a puzzle?
  5. Without cooperation, you are doomed. If someone in your group is ignoring everyone’s ideas and trying to save the day singlehandedly, then that person is not a team player.

For my 20,000 Leagues escape, I was thrown in with a ragtag group of strangers, but we quickly jelled into a united team. I’m proud to say that we were the first group EVER to make it out of the room, in a time of 58 minutes, 51 seconds.

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On the other hand, I’ll conveniently ignore my fairy tale-themed room escape, which did not go over so well. Let’s just say I’m now forever cursed by a witch’s evil spell. Now come on, fellow Voxus colleagues. I challenge you! Do you have what it takes to escape?