5 of the Best Virtual Escape Rooms for Team Building and Work Events

September 7, 2022 by Nate Martin

Almost every industry in the world is now at least partially remote. It might two+ years since you’ve gone into the office. If that’s the case, your team may be starting to drift apart, without any regular communication outside of boring video calls or emails. 


You’ve been meaning to set up a virtual happy hour or game night, but you’re not sure what would be the best way to get everyone together and interact in a meaningful way. It can be difficult to know where to start. 


Your team may be spread out over different continents or have other roadblocks to getting together in person, and some of these online events can take a ton of preparation. 


There’s an easy answer that might be staring you in the face: virtual escape room team building


In this guide, we’ll talk about: 

  • The basics of virtual team building
  • How online escape rooms work
  • What technology is required
  • Things to consider before getting started
  • Five of the best virtual escape rooms for team building
  • How they can be repeat experiences

Ready? Pull out that magnifying glass and let’s move on to the next clue!


What is virtual team building?


Even before the spring of 2020, when the world shut down and workforces went home for good, businesses were looking for ways to put team-building exercises online. 


It only makes sense. As industry moves toward global services and outsourcing, it’s hard to get everyone from one company in the same place at the same time for a physical team-building event – even if it’s just an afternoon in the park or an office-wide scavenger hunt. 


Virtual team building is the answer to that problem. It’s a way to bring your staff together from all over the world in a fun and interactive way, without having to leave your living room. 


There are a few different types of virtual team-building events, such as: 

  • Virtual scavenger hunts: These are similar to physical scavenger hunts, but all of the clues and tasks are completed online. 
  • Online trivia: These can be played in real-time or asynchronously. They’re a great way to test your team’s knowledge on a variety of topics – from company history to pop culture. 
  • Online charades: A classic game that can easily be played online. This is a great way to get everyone laughing and interacting with each other. 

Most of these events can be done in an afternoon or evening, can be scaled as needed, and sometimes are even run by an outside company that will take care of all the logistics. The benefits of virtual team building can be endless, but some of the most common are:

  • Increased team bonding: In a remote work environment, it’s easy for team members to feel isolated from each other. By coming together for a fun activity, you can help everyone get to know each other better and feel more connected. 
  • Improved communication and collaboration: Virtual team-building exercises encourage people to communicate and work together to complete the tasks at hand. This can help improve communication within your team overall. 
  • Boosted morale: In times of stress, it’s important to find ways to relax and have fun. Virtual team building can help with that by providing a much-needed break from work while still being productive. 

If you’re looking for a way to bring your team together, virtual team building is a great option. But what if you want something that’s even more interactive and engaging? That’s where the best virtual escape rooms for team building come in.

What is an online escape room?


If you’ve ever been to a physical escape room, an online escape room is a digital version of that same concept. You and your team are “locked” in a virtual space and have to use clues and solve puzzles to progress through the game and “escape.” 


Some online escape rooms are designed for groups of 4-10 people, but some (including Puzzle Break!) can accommodate larger or smaller groups. And, unlike physical escape rooms where you’re all in the same space, everyone can be in different locations and still take part. 


If you’ve never experienced either, there are a few things to expect:

  •  You’ll be given a set amount of time to complete the game (usually 60 minutes) 
  •  There will be a series of puzzles or challenges that must be completed in order 
  •  Clues will be provided if you get stuck 
  •  You’ll need to work together as a team to succeed 
  •  A game host will be there to help with any technical issues and provide support

That last part is key. Companies like us, Puzzle Break, have been set up specifically to help organize, deploy, and operate these events, meaning you won’t be required to do any preparation. Just show up and have fun!


Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not so fast. Some of these can be extremely challenging, especially if you’re not willing to work with your teammates. Being stubborn or not communicating well is the cardinal sin of escape rooms, as they are designed specifically to need input from several people to complete a task.


That’s why it can be such an effective team-building opportunity. Your group will come out with: 

  •  A better understanding of how everyone works best under pressure
  •  How to better communicate with one another 
  •  Appreciation for different skill sets 

And, if you’re the one organizing it, you’ll get to see how your team handles being put in a leadership position. 


When the hierarchy of an office atmosphere is stripped away, who steps up? Who can delegate tasks? Who is the best at following instructions? 


It can give managers a better idea of where their employees’ strengths and weaknesses are.


What technology do we need to play?


If you can videoconference, you can play a virtual escape room. The only things you need are: 

  • A video conferencing platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts
  • An internet connection
  • A webcam and microphone

That’s it! You and your team can be anywhere in the world and still play together. The game provider will help you to organize your group and make sure everyone can access the best virtual escape rooms for team building. 

What to consider before getting started


While there is no real preparation before an event like a virtual escape room, there are still a few things to consider


Virtual Team Building Goals 


Before you start anything, first consider what the goal of your event is. What do you hope to achieve by the end of it? 


Are you looking to: 

  • Get everyone talking and interacting? 
  • Strengthen relationships between team members? 
  • Help new hires feel like part of the team? 
  • Encourage collaboration and brainstorming? 
  • Promote healthy competition? 

Your goal will help determine what kind of escape room you choose, as well as how you structure your event. For example, if your goal is to get everyone talking, you’ll want to choose a room that has a lot of puzzles that require communication and collaboration to solve. 


On the other hand, if you’re looking to promote healthy competition, you might want to consider a room with teams of two or three competing against each other to see who can escape first.


Length of virtual event


How long do you want the event to last? You’ll need to factor in time for people to log on, instructions, and the actual game itself. Not everyone will want to commit multiple hours to an event, and when you’re dealing with different time zones, it might not even be possible. 


Make sure you choose a room that can be completed in the amount of time you have available, and compensate your employees accordingly. If they don’t want to be there, they aren’t going to be able to build any skills – team building or otherwise.


Number of participants 


Is everyone going to be on the same team, or are there certain groups that you want to work together? If your goal is to build trust between two specific departments, you might want to consider having them work together in the same escape room. 


For example, if your accounting and manufacturing teams are having trouble communicating, put them in the same room and see if they can figure out a way to escape! 


You can also have different teams working on different puzzles at the same time, which can be a great way to add some friendly competition to the mix. Using these events to improve company culture is a no-brainer, and can lead to a sense of belonging that, in turn, leads to increased profitability.


Location


Remember that even if it’s online, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has to be spread out. Puzzle Break offers hybrid models that can be brought directly to your event so that a large group can participate together in person while others log in from home. 


There’s still nothing like the excitement of an entire room cheering, even if virtual escape rooms have done their best to recreate that experience.


Budget


How much are you willing to spend on this event? Some companies may offer discounts for larger groups. 


Creating a custom room can be a great way to make the event more personal and unique, but it will require more time and effort. If you’re short on time or resources, there are plenty of existing rooms to choose from. 


5 of our best virtual escape rooms for team building


That’s where Puzzle Break comes in! Below are five of our best virtual escape rooms for team building.

Monsterpelago


Pokewho? This mythical monster adventure brings a team of experts together to find out the secrets of the island and save these cuddly creatures from extinction!


The best part of this virtual escape room experience is the unfamiliar environment, which will test your team members’ ability to adapt and think on the fly. 


It can be incredibly challenging for people from different cultures to find common ground when difficult situations are put in front of them, so you’ll need plenty of communication to complete this task. 


Some key focus areas in this virtual escape room are:


Working with ambiguity


Don’t let it phase you – this is an escape room, so there are going to be some curveballs. The goal is to get your team used to embracing change and uncertainty, which can be a difficult thing for people to do. 


For example, you might need to use an object in a way that it wasn’t intended to be used, or decipher a purposely vague clue. It’ll be frustrating, but it’ll also be a great opportunity to learn how your team members think under pressure.


Following instructions


Don’t skip any steps! This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s important nonetheless. In an escape room, every step matters. If you’re given a set of instructions, everyone must follow them to the letter. 


Otherwise, you’ll never make it out in time. This is a great way to test your team’s ability to listen to and execute directions without overlooking any small detail.


The Grimm Escape


If your office has a bunch of Tolkiensts (or Harry Potter-heads?), you might want to go for this exciting fantasy adventure. The enchanted forest is filled with challenges and puzzles that will require teamwork and ingenuity if you are to break the curse and escape with your (virtual) lives. 


Make sure you’re paying attention, as this is one of the best virtual escape rooms for team building and requires some key areas of focus:


Observation


Is that just a candle, or does the flame flicker in a specific pattern? Everything could be a clue in this adventure, so it’s important to take note of your surroundings and recognize when something changes.


Concentration


There will be things that try to distract or annoy you, but if you lose focus you may miss the key to progressing. Just one little slip-up could mean having to start a task all over again, putting you and your teammates behind the clock.

Hackfiltration


Give me a systems display; if you’re into techno-talk and code-breaking, this one’s for you. The cyber systems are there for you to infiltrate. With a little trust, teamwork, and pattern recognition, you’ll be toppling the oppressive power structure and fighting for freedom. 


In this adventure, you’ll need multiple people doing things at the same time, so active collaboration is a must. Not only will communication skills increase for your team, but having a shared success can result in buy-in from employees, improving morale and productivity at the same time.


Some other areas of focus include:


Trust

Don’t worry about what your teammate is doing right now. Trust them. That’s a key part of any escape room, but especially while you’re not in the same room. You’ll have to be able to let them work without supervision at times – even if you’re their direct supervisor at work.


Attention to detail

Do you think hackers can make a typo? They have to be able to read strings of text and pick out patterns quickly. This is a skill that will help your team no matter what industry you’re in. If your team is having trouble with the finer details for a recent project, perhaps this is the best virtual escape room for team building possible!


School for Spies


We are definitely going to be late for school. It’s time for the final exam at Spy Academy, but the professor is nowhere to be found. Get ready for a worldwide escapade, finding clues and following a trail so that you and your classmates can graduate.


This experience needs some outside-the-box thinking to complete and is great for a team that has been stuck in a rut. Shake loose those mental cobwebs as you chase down answers.


It will also need:


Thinking with a global perspective


Open your mind and think about things on a wider scale. This is a worldwide escapade, so you’ll need to be one step ahead at all times. Does your team suffer from a lack of diversity? Perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to learn from each other and embrace different cultures.


Critical thinking


You can’t just brute force your way through this one – you’ll need to use your brain power to decode each carefully curated clue. This is perfect for teams that need to break out of restrictive thinking or who tend to just follow orders without questioning them.


Disco Detectives

Can you dance your way to a decision in this groovy tale of mystery and mischief? The Firestone Museum of History has been robbed, and your team of cool cats has to track down the priceless artifact before it disappears forever. 


Being open to new ideas is key for the Puzzle Solving Investigator unit. Without it, you won’t be going anywhere. Make sure you can multitask as well, because no matter how many detectives you put on the case, there are always too many tips to track down. 


Other areas of focus for this adventure are:


Pattern recognition

Can you decipher the code without much help? Maybe you’re made for this escape room, which will have you scrambling to understand a series of clues without much help. Make sure you’re leaning on your teammates for assistance when things get tough or switching tasks to get a fresh set of eyes.


Exploration

This is a new kind of case, and you’ll need to explore every nook and cranny to find the clues. The faster you can move through the virtual space, the better off you’ll be. But if you get too ahead of yourself, you might miss something important.


Build trust and come back often


You need to trust your teammates to succeed, and what better way to build trust than by playing and conquering an escape room together?


We’ve had people come back and play multiple times with different groups of friends, colleagues, and even strangers. It’s the perfect way to get to know someone new in a fun and stress-free environment.

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