Jacqueline Hochheiser, Corporate Communications

Getting locked in a room with a team of eight people and racing against the clock to solve difficult puzzles doesn’t sound like a typical day at work. Or does it? Maybe this situation reminds you of business meetings or urgent projects when you’re collaborating with a group of people from different departments to meet a deadline. If this sounds familiar, and if you like the adrenaline rush of solving complex problems under pressure, maybe you should give escape rooms a try.

After work on Thursday, Feb. 5, sixteen Mini-Circuits members participated in an escape room challenge. The event was part of an ongoing initiative to cultivate the leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills needed to thrive at Mini-Circuits. While the escape room activity was a fun and exciting after-work activity, it was also an effective way to develop a number of high-level skills such as problem-solving, time management and communication that translate directly into situations we face in the workplace every day.

The team-building exercise was introduced by Learning and Development Lead, Joanne McDonnell. “I wanted the participants to have a hands-on, problem-solving experience as a united team. This was an opportunity for them to build stronger relationships with each other by focusing on the overall success of the group. They had to combine their efforts and knowledge so that they could find solutions to the multiple puzzles that needed to be solved to escape the rooms,” she said. “It’s always fun to do things with colleagues outside of work hours, but it’s especially good to know that if I’m ever trapped somewhere with this group, it won’t take long for them to find a passageway out.”

The participants brought their diverse skills, personalities and work habits to the challenge. Despite (and perhaps because of) those differences, participants were able to work together successfully. The diversity of backgrounds brought a range of perspectives to the problem-solving process, so brainstorming solutions among team mates yielded more ideas and more results. The experience ultimately illuminated both individual talents and the power of successful teamwork for everyone involved. 

At Mini-Circuits, there are many different teams all working toward a common goal. In this environment, where work style differences can present communication challenges between individuals and departments, it becomes increasingly important to foster camaraderie not only within smaller groups, but throughout the company as a whole. Mini-Circuits’ goal is not only to create strong, collaborative teams within the company, but also to prepare each individual for success within the company and elsewhere in their lives.

The sixteen Mini-Circuits members participating in the escape room were split into two teams of eight and each team was assigned a different room to solve. The first team took on a room called “The Clock Tower,” while the second team tackled “The Dig,” a room modeled after an archaeological dig site. Both teams applied their unique problem-solving skills to find the many hidden objects and clues, which helped them solve complex puzzles and earn their freedom.

All participants came together and brainstormed ideas in a high-stress situation until the solution was found. “One of the most important things to remember was keeping a level head under pressure,” said Mike Sullivan from the Dig team. “If someone was struggling, they wouldn’t have to get stuck. We would just rotate someone else in to look at the problem.”

Despite the challenging odds, The Clock Tower team and The Dig team both escaped with several minutes to spare of the total hour they had to solve the puzzle. “We were very happy with the outcome,” commented Urvashi Sengal from The Clock Tower team. She and her group attribute their success to a strong team dynamic and a willingness to listen and respect each other. “The most important thing was to trust each other. Whatever anyone was doing, we knew they were doing it right and that we could rely on them,” she said.

When asked about the performance of the two teams, McDonnell said, “I was incredibly impressed with how naturally the members worked together to discover and analyze the hidden clues. They communicated so clearly with each other under a highly stressful situation. The odds were definitely stacked against them, but they drew from each other’s strengths and ultimately escaped the room victorious.” McDonnell said she would continue to encourage employees companywide to participate in Escape Room events in the future. The experience stands to benefit members from all departments and at all levels of the organization. 

All participating members were proud of their achievements and have fond memories of the experience. We’re proud that both Mini-Circuits teams were able to work together and escape successfully. The escape room challenge was a new and creative way to put the diverse range of talents and backgrounds that make Mini-Circuits great to the test. Keep a look out for another escape room challenge and other team-building opportunities in the future!