Research on Mystery Escape Room Finds “Fun” May Be the Best Way to Create Stronger Corporate Teams--and Families

March 30, 2021 11:00 UTC

Carnegie Mellon University is gaining important insights from escape room participants on leadership, cooperation and diversity; learning why corporate teams are less successful than teams of strangers

SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- University researchers are learning that participants having fun breaking out of Mystery Escape Rooms ( are also capturing best practices for leadership styles, productivity and diversity. Carnegie Mellon University is reviewing data from 1,381 teams; initial findings show the most successful teams have collaborative leaders, open communication and diverse teammates.

Mystery Escape Room started with on-location teambuilding experiences in 2014 but dramatically increased online escape room experiences after the pandemic. Whether online or in-person, live facilitators guide teams of four to twelve people to work together, discover clues and solve a mystery in order to escape different-themed rooms before time runs out.

Mystery Escape Room collected data from extensive observations involving more than 5,100 teams--the world’s largest database on team performance research. Here are some of the initial observations:

  • Leadership Styles--The most successful leaders are inclusive while the least productive have leaders who are either too heavy-handed or too hands-off.
  • Relationships--The teams that complete the most escapes are made of strangers (45%); followed by friends (41%); corporate teams (38%); and then families (33%).
  • Gender--The best teams have an even balance of male and female teammates while the least effective teams are either all-male or all-female.
  • Learning Styles--Teams fare worst when participants “need help but don’t ask for it” and teams that do best have good organization, motivation and the ability to “divide and conquer.”
  • Productivity--The most effective teams are about twice as fast as the average corporate team.

Carnegie Mellon University is continuing to analyze escape room data and will undergo rigorous peer reviews of their findings before publishing the results in an academic journal. More than half of the Fortune 100 companies have participated in Mystery Escape Room experiences to help develop skills in leadership, teamwork and communication among employees.

“Most leaders are good at managing day-to-day activities, but many are not as good at managing innovation,” said Les Pardew, president and founder of Mystery Escape Room. “We’ve discovered companies--and families--when given a safe environment to solve problems are the most cohesive, creative and successful.”

Before starting Mystery Escape Room, Pardew spent 30 years creating some of the world’s most loved video games. He is using that experience to develop activities to promote corporate team building, strengthen family relationships and just have fun—with themes ranging from Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew and superheroes.

“The online escape rooms enable people to participate from all around the globe and help colleagues to learn to work closely together even when they’re separated by distance or pandemic restrictions,” added Pardew. “Live interactions have a more profound learning impact compared to just watching or listening to a presentation.”

Pardew has taken the lessons learned so far to develop “The Pardew Principle,” five decisions each great team must make concerning leadership, mission, trust and respect, communication and organization.

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 eleven Best of State Awards. Participants can attend online or have on-location experiences in Salt Lake City and St. George, Utah, and Tucson, Arizona. More information is available at

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Media Contact:
Paul Murphy

Source: Mystery Escape Room

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