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Trapped together for a bonding session

LET'S GET OUTTA HERE: Participants at The Escape Artist solving puzzles to break free from their confinement. Companies send their staff for such games as they believe that employees can build on their relationships through such activities.


    Sep 08, 2014

    Trapped together for a bonding session

    PLAYING games is often frowned upon during office hours. But more companies in Singapore are realising the benefits of escape-room games that get people to think out of the box.

    Escape-room games - in which a team of three to eight people have to escape from a locked room by piecing together clues to solve puzzles within an hour - took off in April last year.

    Companies have since jumped on the bandwagon, sending their staff for such games as they believe that employees can build on their relationships through such activities.

    Escape-room game operators My Paper spoke to cited a rise in corporate clients, which usually book the rooms for half- to full-day sessions for employees.

    The Escape Artist, one of the first escape-room operators here, has seen a jump in corporate bookings from one to two a week last year, to five a week now.

    Lockdown Singapore, an operator which has hosted more than 100 corporate events, explained that companies play the escape games as they focus on "teamwork and improve employees' analytical skills, while being relaxing and fun".

    Unlike casual customers, corporate customers are provided with analyses of their teamwork after their sessions.

    Jonathan Ye, the managing director of Lockdown Singapore, said this can help employees "work on their strengths and weaknesses".

    Trapped Singapore, an operator that opened in January, said that corporate customers "often have mini competitions to see which group (solves) puzzles faster".

    Human-resource experts agree that the escape-room activities can benefit companies, though such games should be managed properly by organisers.

    According to Erman Tan, director of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, the games could enable employees to "find out how colleagues work and respond under stress and time constraints".

    "It is a good way to understand each other better in terms of analytical skills and personality," he added.

    However, he stressed the need for "fair participation from all sides", as there is a risk that some individuals might be left out. Bosses should also give subordinates the chance to take the lead in order to "assess the employee's potential".

    He added that follow-up games are needed after several months "to track any progress in team bonding".

    One corporate customer is Jeremy Lim, an employee from Carlo Gavazzi Automation Singapore.

    Together with 15 colleagues, the area sales manager participated in Lockdown Singapore's escape-room games in May as a team-building activity.

    Mr Lim, 39, said: "Our teams consisted of members from different departments, (so) strategising together definitely fostered our team bonding."

    However, such games may not suit everyone.

    Ronald Lee, managing director of PrimeStaff Management Services, noted that "such activities may be useful only to people of a certain age group and in a certain employment category".

    He added that a single 60-minute session may have "limited value for concrete results" and advised companies to vet the games beforehand to assess their effectiveness.

    Rates for corporate customers are usually customised according to the number of participants, timing and optional refreshments.

    Typical rates for casual customers are between $18 and $22 an hour per person, depending on time and availability.