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Utah research shows that corporate teams need to learn to “escape” to reach the top two percent

Salt Lake City — Most companies take pride in having the best employees to get the job done—but a massive survey by Mystery Escape Room (www.mysteryescaperoom.com) finds corporate teams are the worst performers at working together and getting the task done.

The research involving 5,424 escape experiences shows teams of strangers are the most likely to be a top two percent team—and corporate teams are the least likely to reach this elite status. The in-person or online escape room experiences bring teams to work together, discover clues and solve a mystery before time runs out. Here are some of the findings:

  • The top two pecent completed the task in 41.6 minutes; the bottom two percent took 223.79 minutes; overall average completion time is 75.83 minutes.
  • The most teams in the top two percent were groups of strangers, followed by groups of friends, family members and corporate groups faring the worst.
  • The top two percent had less internal conflict: higher levels of communication, cooperation and self-organization: wasted the least amount of time and had the most fun.
  • The leaders in the top two percent were more open, focused, aggressive, and independent; leaders in the bottom two percent were more closed, scattered, reactive and dependent.

“These findings should be a wake-up call for corporate leaders that they need to create a safe environment where everyone will want to participate on projects without the fear of appearing stupid or making a mistake,” says Les Pardew, president and founder of Mystery Escape Room. “Strangers are the most likely to get the assignment done with time to spare because they are less intimidated about what they are being told or what others think about them.”

More than half of the Fortune 100 companies have participated in Mystery Escape Rooms to develop leadership, teamwork and communication among employees. Pardew is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to create the world’s largest database on team performance research. More details from the research can be found here.

An executive at a major engineering firm said he will continue to use the online escape rooms to help with team building. “I found the exercise not only challenging but revealing about our team members,” he said. “All of the aspects have parallels to the jobs each of our folks does.”


The executive added he will incorporate what they learn at the escape rooms for the team and individual development plans.  

“Companies are discovering online escape rooms are an ideal way to bring employees from around the globe to promote team building and identify ways to be more successful,” adds Pardew. “Escape rooms are fun but they also can make a profound difference by helping teams find ways to succeed and identify tactics that lead to failure.”

Live facilitators guide teams of four to 12 people to discover clues to escape different-themed rooms—like Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, and Downton Abbey. After the experience,  facilitators have a debriefing with teams to identify group dynamics and to review what did and did not work.

Mystery Escape Room

Mystery Escape Room was one of the first escape room companies in the U.S. when it began in 2014 and has become the global leader for in-person and online interactive games that inspire audiences to go on adventures to solve a mystery. Founder Les Pardew has created experiences to inspire, enable and empower participants to reach new heights of teamwork and cooperation. Mystery Escape Room has hosted employees from half of Fortune 100 companies and installed escape rooms in 20 Air Force bases around the world. The company won 11 Best of State Awards. Participants can attend online or have on-location experiences in Salt Lake City, St. George, Utah, and Tucson, Arizona. Visit www.mysteryescaperoom.com for more information.