The Escape Room™ 10-team | Teamwork Training Activity

**FOR USE IN VIRTUAL & FACE-TO-FACE TRAINING SESSIONS** In this fun and challenging tabletop activity teams are locked in a room (in theory!). The doors are chained shut and there are just 60 minutes to escape! Can teams work together under time pressure to crack the code and unlock the doors?!

Learning Objectives

  • to test how well teams perform when working under pressure
  • to test teams’ understanding of a complex task
  • to practise organisational and time-management skills
  • to highlight the value of teams interacting and sharing data with other teams (in cooperation, not rivalry)
  • to test teams’ approach to problem-solving (lateral thinking)
  • 4 team version also available here

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 60 participants per training session within your organisation. Please ask for a discount on multiple licences to use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    12-60 (in 4-10 teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    1 hour + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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Access for digital products is via the Northgate Trainerhub (we will set you up with hub access within 24 (working) hours of your order & our working hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm).

  • UK delivery

    (normally next working day)


  • Europe delivery

    (1-2 working days)


  • World delivery

    (1-5 working days)



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The Activity

To taste freedom, teams must discover the vital lock combination that releases the door. The lock combination is made up of a number of digits. Each team must find ONE of those digits so that when used together in the right order they unlock the chains.

Teams find the crucial digits by solving 8 problems. BUT - they are not all straightforward - it’s very easy to go wrong if you are not organised and paying full attention.

To ensure they solve the problems correctly, teams need to work with each other rather than competing. Wrong answers incur time penalties. Two such penalties, for example, reduce the time available from the original 60 minutes to just 50 minutes. It’s a race against time - but more haste often means less speed!

A correct solution to a problem earns teams a letter of the alphabet (although only the FIRST team with the right answer gets the letter). There are eight letters available which, when put in order with other letters teams already have at the start, spell out who locked them in the room. Teams need to know who locked them in before they can escape.

Teams’ objectives are: find the combination, discover who locked them in and build a tower that meets certain criteria or, in the virtual version, instead of building a tower, teams must solve The Courtyard Problem.

Trainer's Role

  • Divide the group into ten teams of 3-6 participants and set the scene, explaining that the doors to the room are 'locked and chained' (for classrooms, posters showing locked doors are provided to stick on the doors - the doors to the room are not actually locked).
  • Issue the Team Briefs (and team resources for the classroom version), announce they have 60 minutes to escape.
  • Observe but do not get involved - except to stand by to receive teams’ answers to the problems.
  • If the solution is correct, issue that team with a letter of the alphabet. If incorrect issue a 5 minute penalty to the whole group.
  • At the deadline ask each team to announce their ‘digit’ that together make up the combination. Ask “Who locked you in?” and measure team towers.
  • If ALL the criteria are met, within the deadline, then teams have achieved their objective and you can release the chains on the doors! They are FREE!
  • Lead a debrief on the key lessons that were thrown into relief. Lots of issues to address, all covered in the Trainer’s Notes (along with a step-by-step guide).

It’s very straightforward to run a session.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Team Briefs
  • Trainer’s Checklists
  • Trainer's PowerPoint

Also included in hard copy pack for classroom use:

  • Lock and Chains Door Posters
  • Tape Measure
  • A4 Card
  • Resources: Straws, Fibre Pens, Paper, Sticky Tape and Rulers

This activity is supplied as a hard copy pack for face-to-face classroom use and as a set of digital files for virtual classroom use (the digital files are supplied via the Northgate Trainerhub).

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Option to send information to team leaders digitally via the hub using Team Access Codes
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

They did ‘Belbin’ before lunch so 'The Escape Room' enabled them to use their team roles. It reinforced the need to plan and read everything. They understood the link to real life where people don’t talk to each other and work in silos. All in all, a great exercise - it was the highlight of the course.

Neil Porter, Training Specialist, Supervisory Development, BAPCO, Bahrain

I have used 'The Escape Room' activity a number of times with both smaller and larger teams and it has worked brilliantly each time. The teams have all loved it, it was enjoyable to facilitate and had some real beneficial learning - especially around the topic of collaboration. I would highly recommend it for any team events where you're wanting teams to learn together more effectively.

Nazareen Johnson, Head of Learning & Development, Pets At Home

'The Escape Room' highlights learning around communication and attention to detail. I've run it 4 or 5 times now with great success. It's challenging and fun! Great work Northgate - keep it up!

Carl Dearden, Education Development Practitioner, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

I would highly recommend 'The Escape Room'. We used it as part of a team build and the participants were very engaged as they wanted to escape so badly! The activity highlighted some really interesting areas for development around communication and team work which opened up some fantastic discussions within the group. We will certainly use the activity again when we get the chance!

Oliver Page, Operations Manager, Ignite Training

We used 'The Escape Room – 10 Team' version to support this quarter’s L&D theme - Problem Solving and Decision Making. The delegate feedback was so positive that people who hadn’t attended asked if we could run another session this quarter. We really enjoyed the session and it was a great activity. We will definitely look at using Northgate activities in the future.

Geraldine Clarke, Learning and Development Advisor, RHP

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