How to Create the Best Virtual Team Building Activity for Everyone

July 25, 2022 by Nate Martin

These days, most people find the whole ‘team building’ shtick pretty dull. It’s become a bit of a cliché, and something that a lot of people would rather avoid. Especially if it means arbitrary trust exercises—no thanks.


And now that we’re all working online, things are considerably more grim on the team building side of things. We’re made to sit in on long video conferences and expect teamwork to just magically happen as a result. Or worse, our workplace makes no effort whatsoever to foster team connection, and we’re left to our own devices.


At this point, what should your next step be? How can you create a virtual team building activity that everyone not only enjoys, but actually gains something from? Let’s talk about it.


What Is Team Building in the Workplace?


As much as the business world bangs on about it, team building actually has roots in some pretty groundbreaking research from the ’30s. Back then, the concept of team ‘togetherness’ was mostly foreign. No one really understood the right conditions for making a team tick. 


Then the Hawthorne Studies came out, and we realized a few key things:

  • Teams aren’t just a group of people made to work as a unit; they need to feel like a unit and collaborate on the conditions they set for themselves. 
  • The best teams have a sense of pride in their achievements.
  • Feedback and communication are crucial to a team’s success.
  • Ideally, healthy teams will develop a sense of ‘confidence and candor.’
  • For the best productivity outcomes, team members need to feel as though they are important, and that their manager takes an active interest in what they are doing. 

In other words, companies found out that teams literally need to be built and maintained—not just bunched together optimistically. Groundbreaking, huh? 

Team Building Takes Off


After the research came out, workplaces began to see new strategies coming to the forefront of management (like the trust falls, icebreakers, and group problem-solving exercises we’ve now grown to love or hate).


Companies started to focus on the human side of their production lines, working to make sure their teams felt comfortable and cohesive. Team exercise and games were all the rage. 


But you can’t do blind-folded egg races via Zoom, and it’s way harder to connect with a team if their faces are two-dimensional—so now that remote work is the norm, what’s a company to do? 


Well, some have outright given up, opting to forego any sense of team spirit in favor of employees who work independently. But that’s not the right answer for all businesses. Some have begun looking for outside services to help create and lead team building activities—and that’s where virtual team building comes into play!

What Is Virtual Team Building?

The pandemic faced us with a lot of harsh realities. In lockdown, many of us quickly realized:

  • It’s incredibly hard to stay productive when your bed is a few feet away from your desk
  • Zoom calls are a poor substitute for in-person meetings
  • Remote work is totally incompatible with team building

And although we’ve managed to find ways to make working from home work, there’s been an enormous push to take things even further. Companies want their teams to feel like they never even left the office. As such, they’re turning to the latest and greatest in workplace trends: virtual team building. 


It’s exactly as it sounds—activities that work with the online format to help build team relationships and cohesion. And it’s been gaining popularity for good reason. With so many people now working remotely, it’s more important than ever to find ways to connect with your colleagues.

What Do Virtual Team Building Activities Involve?


Now, we all know that you can’t just take a traditional team building activity and whack it online. That’s why the industry of virtual team building is growing so quickly—because it takes a lot of creativity to make things work in a remote setting. 


But generally, these activities involve some combination of the following:

  • Online meetings that are more interactive than just Zoom calls
  • Games and exercises that bring groups together, like collaborative projects, puzzles, or quizzes
  • Activities with rewards and incentives for morale boosting

There are some pretty darn creative people out there, which is why we’ve seen so many innovative virtual team building activities popping up. The most successful ones tend to have this in common: they offer a new way to build cohesive and connected teams.

Introducing the Online Escape Room


At Puzzle Break, we’re pretty well convinced that we’ve found the answer to all your remote work woes. Enter: the online escape room.


An escape room, for those who are unfamiliar, is one of the most exciting, challenging, and all-around fun rooms you’ll ever walk into. They’re traditionally an in-person experience. Here’s how they work:

  • A room is set up with a string of interactive clues, puzzles, and brain twisters that all lead to one final solution.
  • The clock is ticking, and you and your team have limited time to figure it all out.
  • If you’re successful, you unlock the door and escape; if not, you’ve failed the mission!

Pretty awesome, right? We tend to think so.


How It All Went Online


When the pandemic hit, it became clear to us that an in-person escape room just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. We needed something that would bring people together from their living rooms, regardless of where they were in the world. Our virtual escape room team building experience was born!

Now, you might be wondering—how on earth could something like this be taken online? Well, we’re happy to report that we’ve managed to make it work incredibly well. And we aren’t the only ones. 

There are plenty of escape room companies taking their wares into the online space. Some simply send you the puzzles and clues in an email, and you work on them from your own home. Others have created more immersive experiences, where you join a live video call with your teammates and work together to solve the puzzles. 

Either way, the basic premise is the same: you’re all working together to escape a room, and the escape involves a series of interconnected puzzles and clues. While the in-person element is gone, the important elements remain:

  • Teamwork and collaboration over an exciting challenge
  • A series of puzzles to suit all minds and personalities
  • The satisfaction of overcoming a challenge together (if you do escape, that is!)

Online escape rooms have totally changed the way companies do conference calls and team building activities. Gone are the days of staring at a screen while someone lectures you on the latest company updates. Instead, you can now take part in an activity that’s challenging, fun, and truly engaging.


Take Your Team Building Online


As you may (or may not) know, we’re escape room connoisseurs at Puzzle Break. We love everything about them. For that reason, it was of the utmost importance to us that we provide the world with an unprecedented online escape room experience.


And we think we’ve succeeded—but you can be the judge of that. 


Puzzle Break started as the first escape room company in the U.S., setting up shop across six major locations with a number of escape room stories to choose from. Over the years we’ve seen team after team walk through our doors and emerge victorious, not just in solving the puzzles, but in working together as a cohesive unit. 


Now we want to bring that experience to you, no matter where in the world you may be. We’ve taken all our years of knowledge and created an online escape room that is truly second to none. From the puzzles and clues to the team building aspects, it’s all there.

How Our Online Escape Rooms Work


Our virtual team building escape rooms are designed to take your teamwork to new heights. Forget the traditional office meeting or conference call—our online escape rooms are the perfect way to get everyone on the same page.


Here’s how it works: 

  • You get in touch with us at Puzzle Break. Together, we arrange the ideal time and discuss your team size as well as any other preferences you may have. You’ll also pick from a number of escape room storylines (more on this soon).
  • On the day, all of your team members join a video call hosted by one of our Game Masters and professionals; they’ll be running the escape room for your team, keeping things moving and entertaining!
  • Your team will be presented with high-quality, cutting-edge visual and audio clues, puzzles, and tasks to complete in order to escape the room. We’ve spent countless hours ensuring that these are top-notch and will challenge your team in new and exciting ways.
  • The Game Master is on hand to help, provide hints when needed and keep the escape room fun and engaging. 
  • The clock is ticking—can your team escape the room before time runs out? 

It’s pretty simple, and the best part is that we can accommodate for teams of any size. No need to split up the team or have people missing out. 


Now, Puzzle Break itself wasn’t created exclusively for teambuilding. Our in-person escape rooms are used by plenty of friend and family groups for the pure goal of having fun. Our virtual experience, though, was designed specifically with corporate teambuilding in mind. 


This means we’ve gone to extra lengths to make sure our virtual puzzles bring out all of those juicy teambuilding skills. Themes like communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, time management and leadership are all put to the test.


All of that, and not an ounce of boredom! Can you imagine?


Choose Your Virtual Team Building Adventure


The typical escape room adventure is usually something pretty dark and intense—think secret agents, spies, or detectives on the trail of a criminal mastermind. If you’re not tracing the steps of a murderer, you’re cracking Morse code.


We love these themes (who doesn’t?), but we understand that not everyone does. That’s why we offer a range of escape room adventures to choose from—six, to be exact—each with its own unique teambuilding flavor.


Hackfiltration

In this irreverent cyber adventure from decades past, you and your team of elite hackers must infiltrate the system to fight the power! Can you put your heads together and break through the firewalls in time?


School for Spies

It’s finals week at Spy Academy and the professor has gone missing! You and your class must find the clues scattered around the globe to pass your exam. If not, the world is doomed…

The Winter Tail of Jackalope Frost

‘Tis the season to gather close your team of brave adventurers and solve the mystery of mischievous Jackalope Frost!


The Grimm Escape

In this fantasy adventure, your troupe has become trapped in an enchanted forest. Do you have the wit and wisdom to defeat the curse before time runs out?


Disco Detectives

A priceless artifact has been stolen from the Firestone Museum of History, and it’s up to the legendary Puzzle Solving Investigator unit to crack the case. Can you dance your way to the truth?


Monsterpelago

Journey to the fabled isle of Monsterpelago, famous for its mystical inhabitants: Monsters! Does your team of dedicated experts have the skills and teamwork to save them from extinction?


As you can see, there’s something for everyone at Puzzle Break. No matter what your team’s interests are, we’ve got an escape room adventure that will get them working together like never before.


Use Your Company’s Values to Build Rapport


As a company, you’ve likely got a set of values that make your culture unique. Perhaps you place a real emphasis on collaboration, or you pride yourselves on being inventive and forward-thinking. Whatever your values may be, they provide a great foundation for team building activities.


Why? Because when people can see how their individual strengths contribute to the company’s overall goals, it builds rapport and encourages everyone to work together more effectively. In other words, team building activities that are based on your company’s values help people to see how they fit into the big picture.


Believe it or not, escape rooms support some of the most common values found in businesses. It’s true! If you want your team to focus on communication, for instance, there’s nothing like a series of tough-as-nuts puzzles to get everyone chatting.

How Escape Rooms Support Mental Health


Across all levels of the U.S. workplace, employees are dealing with more mental health struggles than ever before. Seriously—HBR research found that 76% of people in the workplace reported struggling with at least one mental health condition in 2020.


Thankfully, businesses aren’t keeping themselves out of it. They’re waking up to the reality. Many have begun prioritizing mental health as one of their core values (as we all should have long ago!).


Escape rooms can boost the morale and mental health of your team, and in more ways than one:


1. They let people blow off some steam. If you’ve ever done an escape room, you’ll have seen how the adrenaline levels go absolutely off the charts! This can be a great way for people to let off some steam, especially if they’ve been feeling tense or stressed.


2. They help people focus on the task at hand. We’re more distracted than ever in this day and age; for lots of businesspeople, they’re checking three different emails at once and multitasking non-stop. Escape rooms let teams focus solely on one challenge, and they can be really good at teaching people how to compartmentalize their thoughts.


3. They’re a ton of fun. If your company is sorely lacking in fun, it’s going to damage morale in the long run—especially when your workforce is stuck, isolated at home. You can bring the fun back by organizing escape room team building activities!


If mental health is something you value as a company (and let’s hope it is!) then escape rooms make for an excellent team building activity. They tick all the boxes in terms of boosting morale, helping people to focus, and letting them blow off some steam. So what are you waiting for?


Team Building and Escape Rooms


Another value most companies put highly on the priority list is team building, because—as we mentioned earlier—research like the Hawthorne Studies showed us the immense value of a tight-knit team. If you’re looking for an activity that will help promote team building and camaraderie, then escape rooms would be your perfect choice!


Here’s why:

  • Escape rooms force cooperation. Your team could be the worst collaborators on the planet, but put them in an escape room, and they’ll be forced to work together in order to succeed. The high-stakes environment works wonders for promoting team building.
  • They bring out the best in your team. Since our escape rooms have such a variety of puzzles, your team will soon find out lots more about their teammates—like who’s talented at math or who’s a creative thinker. It’s super beneficial for employees to familiarize with one another in this way.
  • Natural leaders step forward. Escape rooms set the perfect scene for natural leaders to emerge. When your team is stuck on a puzzle and someone takes the reins, they’re essentially leading the pack—and proving their worth as a leader.
  • Communication is essential. A common problem with teams is that they don’t know how to communicate effectively. Escape rooms teach people how to listen, to take turns speaking, and to give and receive feedback.
  • Watch your team grow closer. As team members learn more about one another’s strengths, personalities, and quirks, they’ll grow closer and become more comfortable working together. This is an important step in developing a strong team.

So there you have it—team building and escape rooms go together like peanut butter and jelly! If you’re looking for a fun (and mentally healthy) way to bring your team closer together, then look no further than our escape rooms.


Escape Rooms for Team and Employee Assessments


Assessing your team can be downright painful; it can feel like you’re prying into people’s personal lives, or like you’re judging them. But it’s a necessary evil if you want to see your team reach its full potential.


Luckily, escape rooms offer the perfect opportunity for team assessment. Here are some of the things that can be assessed in an escape room:

  • How well do team members cooperate?
  • Who is the natural leader?
  • Who takes charge when things get tough?
  • What are people’s individual strengths?
  • Do team members listen to one another and give constructive feedback?
  • Do team members feel comfortable working together?

Since you’re right there watching the virtual escape room unfold, you can discreetly observe team members and take note of how they interact with one another. Goodbye, arduous assessments—hello, insightful and fun observations!


Build Trust While Having a Blast


Team building doesn’t need to be a chore, despite what many of us have been led to think. Teams are a delightful combination of unique personalities, work styles, skills, and knowledge. Having the privilege of building one is a fantastic opportunity—and escape rooms are one of the best ways to do it.


Escape rooms are the perfect place to build trust. Why? Because they’re fun. People let down their guard in a fun environment, and they’re more likely to be themselves. This is why escape rooms are so valuable for team building—you get to see people in their natural state, and this allows for trust to form more easily.


Once trust is established, the sky’s the limit. Teams can achieve anything when they’re working together harmoniously, and escape rooms are a fantastic way to promote this type of teamwork. If you’re interested in booking Puzzle Break for an unforgettable virtual experience, all you need to do is get in touch. We’ll organize the rest!

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