Trapped in a Room with Your Teammates

Our experience participating in an Escape Room challenge

Once a year our company does a team retreat in a new location. Most of us see each other everyday, but only via Zoom. Getting together in person is a really cool way to strengthen our bond as a team and build on our working relationships as well as our personal. Also, there is something about seeing that these folks are not just floating heads and they do, in fact, have a lower half of their body, that really solidifies that teamwork feeling.

We ended up in Gatlinburg, TN for our 2018 Team Retreat. Our house was an amazing 15 bedroom cabin at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

A log cabin mansion in Gatinsburg, TN

The first day we all arrived, sleepy but excited to see each other. We enjoyed some dinner and called it an early night.

Our second retreat day was planned on our itinerary as starting with the Chromatic State of the Union, followed by lightning talks, hanging out, eating amazing meals and THEN we added something none of us had ever done before: we drove to “town”, split into teams and participated in an Escape Room challenge. Our half of the team’s room was called Asylum. Our puzzle’s premise was: Human experimentation and reports of wrongly committed patients, lead many people to believe this asylum should be shut down. To uncover the truth, find the Doctor’s secret records, before you become the next experiment. (spoiler alert: we didn’t)

We are a team of 15 and we mostly know how everyone is in tense situations, i.e. who is competitive, who is good at problem solving, who’s critical thinking helps them see five steps ahead, and so on. Me, I am not in any of those categories, but, luckily I was trapped in a padded cell with coders, developers, and designers. Their jobs are to create things, see problems and solve them. So, I sat back, followed instructions when they shouted combinations to me and took photos/videos of my fellow ward-mates as they fought to get us out.

Multiple people in a locked room with a building map on the wall

Multiple people in a locked room with a building map on the wall

The second half of our team participated in the game called Deadzone. This premise was It's been 197 days since the outbreak. Terror has begun to set in. You are out of food and most of your friends have been infected or disappeared. A small group of the uninfected have come together in efforts of coordinating with the very last helicopter rescue making its last fly over for survivors in 60 minutes. This is your only hope of survival.

I wasn’t in that room so I don’t have any photos, they also escaped their room and may or may not have knocked on our door with ten minutes remaining, bragging as we were struggling. It’s a tough subject for those competitive people on our team and probably contributed to our eventual demise.

This was a great time for team building, seeing how others work under pressure, watching how ‘into it’ some people get, and got us out of our mansion for the day (rough life).

The consensus on the team was that we should definitely do it again on our next retreat and continue adding new things that help us work together, while giving us the chance to hangout and prevent Zombie domination.