A much anticipated day on the Engage Web calendar is always the annual team building day, which took place with a twist last Thursday, July 21st.
This year, we decided to combine the day with our periodic Company Update, and we each made proposals based on what we learned from our recent visit to SAScon. The morning was very much a flurry of flipcharts and a smorgasbord of slideshows; a PowerPoint cornucopia, if you will. It’s a welcome reminder that although we’re a relatively small team, we all have our own areas and ideas, and that just because something may have been done in a certain way for a long time, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be receptive to change.
— Engage Web (@EngageWeb) July 21, 2016
As the afternoon came by, we headed off to Manchester for the offsite part of the day, which traditionally tends to be something of a mystery to most of our team. Writing a 1,000-word article about Pokémon Go earlier in the week was clearly not enough for our Account Executive Alan, who proceeded to spend the entire journey waffling on about the game and calling in at every Pokéstop en route. It’s entirely his fault that I started doing the same thing. At least Darren, our Technical Director, was mature enough to ignore the fad and play Transformers Earth Wars instead.
After being cooped up in a car on the M56 on a hot summer’s day, then crawling through innercity Manchester at a pace so slow that Pokémon Go actually thought we were walking, what better situation to follow this than being handcuffed and shut in a small, dark, locked room together? Don’t worry though – it wasn’t an extreme case of road rage from our driver and Managing Director Lianne that had got us all banged up, but simply our participation in the Prison Break section of the Escape Rooms challenge.
— Engage Web (@EngageWeb) July 21, 2016
The premise of the Escape Rooms is simple – you’re stuck in a room and you can’t get out unless you follow a series of cryptic clues and keep your sanity for long enough to make your escape. You have an hour to do this or, the staff warn, face being locked in there forever!
Idle threat or not, we didn’t come all this way to be bungling inmates who can’t make it out of a room when given an hour to play with, and were out with 15 minutes to spare. Not bad, but Prison Break was only a four-star difficulty. Our next challenge was the five-star Secret Lab, and we’d need a bit less dithering if we were to be able to conquer the big daddy of the venue.
In truth, it took us a while to get going in the Secret Lab, but with a couple of gentle hints from the staff (you can have as many of these as you like, but they warn that they become progressively unhelpful if you overuse them) we were on our way. In fact, not only did we make it out, but we did it in the joint fourth fastest time ever recorded at the venue – just 40 minutes!
The day was a lot of fun, but also an example of how well we work together. It became very obvious early on that we each had a significant role, with the athletic and adventurous Alan usually the one thrusting himself headlong into the challenges and trying out ideas. I took more of a backseat role and tried to study some of the puzzles and codes you need to crack to make progress, which I was often able to do but too ham-fisted to physically input combination codes and turn keys. Luckily, Darren is a hands-on guy and did much of the button pressing and gear grinding. Lianne, in typical MD fashion, was very good at delegating. Seriously, it’s important to have someone there who can organise the team, get everyone focused on their strength and make sure nobody, perish the thought, isn’t pulling their weight!
We can take a lot out of our day, and use it as a reminder that while we may be different in our areas of skill and interest, we are able to bring them together to achieve goals – something we need to do every day at Engage Web.