Here at Making Teams we love making escape rooms! Hopefully, you love playing them and challenging your inner detective as much as we enjoy making them!
Virtual escape rooms are great for improving your teams’ online collaboration skills and for focusing on communication and problem solving. With the need for remote teams and working from home the skills you need for online co-operation are more important than ever. Here are our set of tips and tricks to improve your teams’ ability to collaborate together and work well online to solve problems and be more efficient in beating escape rooms.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
It’s all about keeping in contact and communicating with each other. Everybody in the team needs to open the virtual room and be active in gathering information. It may seem simple but sometimes team members become passive and end up being spectators. We suggest that one person in the team is always sharing their screen so that everybody can see something visually and be aware on the main point of focus. There are many ways to communicate online using video conferencing platforms, but keep talking all the time, sharing your screens, using screen annotation and using the chat function. Most of all keep talking!
Use the sharing tools at your disposal
As well as talking, you should also use the other communication options such as screen sharing, annotation, virtual whiteboards and the chat function, which is a good place to start sharing screenshots and clues. Taking it to the next step involves a shared workspace where participants can upload images and all edit or work on the same material at the same time. For example, take it a step further and use a shared document space, for example an Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint document or OneNote. Or any tool of your choice.
Start by looking around and search the room thoroughly
Your first job when entering an escape room is to allow everybody to a few minutes to look around and gather all the information they can. What are the things you can find straight away? Make a shared list and decide as a team where to start. This is your first stage in information gathering.
There may be hidden items that you can click on to find or open. Look for all the hot spots and information you can, click on everything and drag everything. See what moves and see what you can open. Find what is written and what notes or letters have been left for you. It’s better to click on everything available to you at that moment rather than to get focused on one particular puzzle.
Divide the work between your team and multitask
When you have decided your game plan and the first items to start working on, allocate the tasks within your team and split up your effort. It’s a lot more efficient if different members of your team are working on separate things at the same time. If one person needs help or finds important information, then speak out and call somebody over to help you work with the puzzle you are currently working on.
Shout out the information that you find
Don’t keep things to yourself when you find them! For example, if you find a letter that does not seem to be relevant to the puzzle you are currently working on, shout out to the team that you found something and what it might apply to.
Here’s where multitasking really comes to the fore. Not only do you need to keep talking, and opening boxes and clues and calling out what you find, you also need to keep listening. All your teammates will be doing the same, so you need to develop the ability to search, speak and listen efficiently all at the same time.
Ask for help from your team when needed
If you become stuck on a puzzle for more than a few minutes or you feel like you are getting nowhere with it then don’t wait too long. Ask one of your team mates to come over and help you and have a look at what you’re looking at as they may see something quickly that you did not notice. A fresh set of eyes can often move things on very quickly.
Ask for hints when needed from the facilitator
Although you may get a penalty of a few minutes when asking for a hint, it’s important to use your hints efficiently. It may well be better to lose a few minutes and solve a puzzle much quicker than you would have done otherwise by getting stuck on one particularly difficult puzzle.
Make a guess on a lock or puzzle when you have some of the information
If for example you need 3 keys to open a drawer and you know the first 2 you can probably cycle through the remaining options until you find the remaining one that works. Or if you are looking for a word and you have 4 out of 5 letters there’s a good chance you can guess the missing letter by solving the anagram or finding a word that makes sense with your 4 known letters. Good guesses to complete half-finished puzzles can save you a lot of time!
Think about the simplest solution and Occam’s razor
Escape room puzzles are usually designed to be solved with the information in the room or at least with some logical application that everybody in theory could do. In addition, most information in puzzles is probably only used one time. Also, if information something seems important it probably needs to be used somewhere in the game. There may be some red herrings but they are not the norm in escape rooms.