Whenever I hear the term “Awayday” used in a work-context, it sends a cold shudder up and down my spine. I know exactly what the term means.
Firstly, the “Away” part of the expression is normally a complete misnomer. The furthest “Away” I have ever got on an office “Awayday” is just another part of the same building where I always work. I do not consider that climbing two extra flights of stairs constitutes going “Away”.
Of course, what the term also hides is the fact that the “Awayday” is not intended as an opportunity to spend a spot of relaxed social time with your work colleagues; rest assured that every minute of the “Awayday” will have been rigorously timetabled with the belief that this is the best way to achieve team-building and good office relationships.
Most “Awaydays” involve multi-coloured marker pens and flip-charts; copious role-play and ideas-maps; and plenty of earnest learning outcomes, none of which are ever acted upon.
What a surprise then to discover that our latest “Awayday” was actually going somewhere “Away”. More than that it was going somewhere, which actually sounded rather fun. A place called HintHunt, close to Euston Station.
By its own description, HintHunt is a live escape game, where you have 60 minutes to escape a locked room, by solving a succession of puzzles and conundrums. It sounded a bit like Fort Boyard, except not stuck out in the Atlantic Ocean, and minus Dirty Den and Melinda Messenger.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers about the game itself, but it was a genuinely entertaining 60 minutes. The experience was cleverly stage-managed; cryptic hints were given via a large TV monitor in the room, to keep you on-track whenever your own clue-finding abilities began to flag; the tension as the clock ticked down was palpable; and it was with a sense of real achievement that the final clue was discovered and the door was opened with just over a minute to spare.
It was probably the best “Awayday” I have ever been on.
And as for team-building? I haven’t a clue. I left and went straight off down the pub. The rest of the office could all still be locked in there for all I care.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree is not much of a team player.