A good team is key to the success of any organization. After all, no one wants to work in a workplace where they feel alienated or undervalued. However, what is the secret to developing cohesion in a team; to make the ‘best’ team? Countless studies have been done on this from Harvard to the NIH to even Google, who developed its own team dedicated to collecting data and analyzing trends and correlations to solve this age old question. The most critical factors fostering tenacity within teams were ensuring each member had an equal voice, and that they felt a sense of safety and security among their coworkers.

That sounds simple, but in this era of increasing demands and instant gratification—swallowed up in a never-ending race to profits—it can be difficult to foster a culture that encourages open dialogue and forums for the sharing of ideas. In addition, the newest addition to the workforce, the millennials, are no longer in it for the long-haul like their predecessors were, often jumping every few years for greener pastures. In today’s changing workplace landscape, just how can companies quickly and reliably create an environment in which their most important assets, their employees, can form bonds of trust and equity in voice?

Many companies have turned to a growing trend across America: escape room games. At Mystery Room NYC, participants are locked in a room and as the name of the genre suggests, they must escape the confines within a certain timeframe. At first glance, trapping your team in a room for an hour may seem counterproductive when it comes to team building, however, many companies have indeed turned to our escape rooms at Mystery Room NYC to do precisely that. Each of our rooms are fitted with a series of challenges, puzzles and of course, mysteries, that participants must overcome in order to successfully escape. With this common objective in mind, teams must work together and communicate effectively to achieve their goal.

In order to succeed, teams will need to share, process, and mold information together into something meaningful. This can take the form of active discussion, brainstorming or even simply bouncing ideas off one another until someone has an ‘eureka!’ moment. Teams will naturally realize the importance and significance of trusting and communicating with their team in this process. Because of the specific time limit, it is imperative that tasks are delegated, that ideas are talked through, and that the ideas are translated and executed in a timely and accurate fashion. With all this going on, an individual will quickly discover just how important the input from others is, particularly with a time limit looming over like the lid of a pressure cooker.

Rather than some form of cruel and unusual punishment, escape rooms have proven effective as a form of team building as they allow an organization to explore and dissect the dynamic of their teams. Strengths, weakness, tendencies and behaviors are revealed and put on display in the open. Very often, when we debrief teams after their game, they will actually tell us what they could have done better; some individuals could have spoken louder, others could have listened better, or on a more holistic scale, the whole team could have focused more on a particular idea, multitasked better, paid more attention to detail, or delegated more effectively. Perhaps without even realizing it, these teams have just come out of our experience with new insight and lessons that can be brought into their workplace to create a better team.