Does Team Building Really Work?

Senior centers, middles schools, church groups, bachelor parties... EVERYONE loves a good escape rooms. Escape rooms are even a popular form of team building for many corporate groups. But why? Are escape rooms any different than taking a group of co-workers to a ropes course, to hit some golf balls, or zooming around a race track?

At The Escapery, we think the answer is a resounding YES! But let’s answer the most important question first: Does team building really work? Yes! And no… the effectiveness of a Team Building activity depends on many factors. As a team building activity is planned, the following questions should be considered:

What is the goal of the activity and is it useful/achievable by the team?

The most effective team building events will have a clear goal and be planned to accomplish that specific aim. Each team has different needs. Some groups find great benefit from the energy and camaraderie-building of a fun social activity outside of work. Other teams may need to focus on specific skills, such as communication, trust, or inclusivity.

Many team building activities, like those found at The Escapery, are a blend of both social and constructive goals. Determining the objective of a team building activity in the planning stages is crucial to its success as well as creating a positive return on the investment of finances and time.

Is the activity relevant and not patronizing or embarrassment inducing?

Team building gets a bad rap. People often think of cringe-worthy “ice breaker” type games or trust falls. Communicate the goal of the team building activity and the expectations for team members from the start. Make sure that the goal is something that justifies their time away from work or an investment of the team member’s personal time. Plan meaningful activities that move your team toward the predetermined objective.

Poorly planned or patronizing team building activities can have the opposite effect desired and create tension and embarrassment among the group. However, a thoroughly planned and executed event can boost engagement and camaraderie, solve and trouble shoot challenges, and create a more cohesive and effective team.

What is the current status of my team?

A team that is newly formed or having group-wide issues that affect a specific area are perfectly suited for a successful team building activity. Groups that work together well already or have several new members can greatly benefit from a team building outing that is mostly social. However, if there are interpersonal conflicts or unhealthy dynamics—hostility, discrimination, hyper competitiveness—a team wide event may not be the solution.

Attempting to solve systemic issues or conflicts between two co-workers through one or two group sessions will most likely not be helpful and may lead to deeper issues. Imagine a group of hyper competitive team members with underlying interpersonal issues playing paintball or participating in exercises that require trust and constructive communication. Knowing the climate of your team as an activity is planned is a major factor in planning a successful team building activity.

“Despite its reputation for being... well, lame... team building is the most important investment you can make for your people. It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration. Effective team building means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line. It can also be adventurous and enjoyable if you do it with a little pizzazz (quote from Forbes article, “Why Team Building is the Most Important Investment You’ll Make).”


Please join us in exploring the effectiveness of team building, how to plan a great team building event, and the role that an escape room game (like those found at The Escapery!) can play in creating an awesome and productive exercise for your group!

April Simmons