Sleepy from a long week of hard work and a very satisfying lunch of tacos and enchiladas in downtown Gilbert, the 5 Fold team was ready for a long weekend of mental relaxation by late Friday afternoon. That made it the perfect time for us to voluntarily lock ourselves in a tiny room so that we would be forced to use our problem-solving and teamwork skills to escape.

No, this isn’t something we set up in our conference room. Escape the Room is an entertainment business here in Phoenix and elsewhere across the United States that specializes in group-based puzzles based on being locked in a room.

13582101_1100418693350346_2364652791835580239_oThe rules

After a brief introductory segment, we’re placed in the room and the clock starts ticking. We have to accomplish certain tasks sequentially to complete the puzzle within an hour.

One more twist: the 5 Fold team split into two competing factions that were locked in adjacent rooms with the same puzzle. The first group to successfully “escape the room” would be the winner. Team Red featured Scott, John, and Kevin. Team Blue had Katharine, Drew, and Brittany.

Escape the Room features multiple settings and scenarios for groups to play through. In ours, the power supply for a futuristic city was failing and we had to find a way to activate the emergency backup within an hour. We’ll keep the finer details about the puzzle to ourselves, since we don’t want to spoil the fun for others, but suffice it to say that we were impressed with the variety the room offered and the difficulty of the puzzles we faced.

Friendly competition

Neither the Red Team or the Blue Team successfully completed the puzzle within the time limit. Scott, Kevin, and John reached the final step of the final challenge, but were unable to solve it in the three minutes they had remaining. Blue Team finished at the second-to-last puzzle. The competition between the teams was fierce. At one point, the two teams had to interact and help one another to proceed: something that everyone was unhappy about doing, since it meant helping the opposing team solve a puzzle they were stuck on.

We’re happy to report that there were no permanent injuries from the light pushing and friendly shoving that went on as the teams moved between the two rooms. Even though both teams “lost” by not completing the objective in time, the Red Team was the winner of the competition. That’s good enough for bragging rights.

Bringing the team together

As clichéd as it might sound, the Escape the Room experience—in addition to being a fun Friday escape—did make our team think about the way we go about solving problems together. While our day-to-day work involves far less matching keys to locks, there is a connection between how we take a step back to look at puzzles and how we study a client’s campaign as a group.

We’d certainly recommend Escape the Room for any team that is looking for a fun, quick diversion from the work week or some practice solving puzzles together. You’ll have to see if you can do better than us and complete the puzzle!