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Easy & Engaging 5-Minute Team Building Activities for Work - HRDQ

Easy & Engaging 5-Minute Team Building Activities for Work

Team building activities don't always have the best reputation in the office, but they are one of the most widely used group-development activities in organizations worldwide for a reason. Engaging in these activities can help create effective working relationships, solve problems, clarify roles, and set goals for the team.

One reason that announcing a team-building activity might receive an eye roll from your employees is that they tend to be time consuming and focused on incorporating practical takeaways. In reality, you can do wonders with a short, simple team-building activity that aims to break the ice, get people's creative juices flowing, and let the team spend time together more naturally.

Whether you're looking for quick team-building activities you can use during brief breaks during the day or before a meeting starts, this list is teeming with ideas that your office will love.

One of the great things about these games is that almost all of them are just as well suited for remote teams as they are for in-office teams. Team building is just as important if not more important for distributed teams, so creating opportunities for team growth and development when your employees work from home is essential for success.

Here are our favorite 5-minute team-building activities for work. These are fun, energetic activities that help people really connect—the perfect icebreakers and energizers to incorporate into your team-building training program.

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Why Is Team Building Important?

Team building is essential for any organization; some even claim it's the most important investment you can make in your team.

Participating in a Team Building Activity

There are countless benefits to engaging in team-building activities, including:

  • Encouraging communication
  • Building trust
  • Increasing collaboration
  • Mitigating conflict
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Improving the company culture
  • Reduce employee turnover

When choosing team-building activities, it can be tempting to try to incorporate practical takeaways related to the organization or leadership lessons. In reality, though, these can be less captivating activities for your team, and you might not find them as beneficial overall.

Instead, consider focusing on spending time together and getting to know each other. You can use these team-building activities to work towards a common goal or share experiences that allow bonding to emerge in a much more organic way.

The Birth Map

Creating a birth map is one straightforward, fast, and fun way for your team to get to know each other better. If your entire team is in-office, you can do this by pinning a map of the world to the wall. Everyone on your team can then pin their name on a piece of paper in the location where they were born.

Creating a Birth Map

If your team is remote, you can use Google maps to create a digital "birth map." Doing this is an excellent way for everyone to learn more about their teammates and help break the ice. At the same time, it visually displays how diverse your team is when you see everyone's birthplaces pinned all over the globe!

Would You Rather

Team Playing a Discussion Game

Would You Rather is a simple game where you come up with two scenarios that your team has to choose between. The more difficult you make the choices, the more exciting and compelling the discussion will be! This game is great to play at the beginning of a meeting to spark a heated conversation. 

Twenty Questions

Twenty Questions Game

Another excellent way to get your team talking is to play Twenty Questions. In this game, one team member comes up with a person, place, or thing. The rest of the team can then ask them questions (twenty of them, in fact) to figure out what the person, place, or thing is.

Marooned on an Island

Marooned on an Island is a quick game that lets your team get to know each other better.

You don't need any special materials for this one, which makes it ideal for a quick break during the day or an icebreaker before a meeting begins.

Woman Choosing a Book

Everyone on the team is asked to come up with one album and book they'd bring with them if they knew they were going to be stranded on a desert island.

This little activity is great for in-office and remote teams alike.

Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie is a simple exercise that can help create a more relaxed mood and encourage your team to connect with one another.

Each person on your team comes up with two things that are true about themselves and one thing that isn't true.

Employee Lying to Team Members

The rest of the team has to guess which of the three statements is the lie. This game works equally well for teams that have worked together for years and brand new ones that are just getting to know each other.

Draw Your Mood

If you want to encourage team building while getting everyone's creative juices flowing, consider a quick activity called Draw Your Mood.

Draw Your Mood Activity

Give everyone on the team a piece of paper and drawing utensils and ask them to draw their mood. You'll find that the final images spark fascinating conversations and give everyone an insight into each other's personalities.

Another idea is to ask each team member to draw their plans for the weekend. 

Are you looking for a more hands-on game that will help encourage teamwork among your employees? Check out this list of team survival games for workplace team building.

Team Stretching

We all spend so much of our time sitting, which can hold back our ability to be productive, efficient, and engaged. There are so many physical and mental benefits to getting up and stretching every once in a while.

Team Stretching Activity

If you have the space in your office, you can have a quick five-minute yoga session. If space is tight, consider doing a few simple standing stretches to get the blood flowing before moving on with the day. It might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but stretching together as a team is a fantastic way to help everyone relax and feel more at ease around each other.

You might consider making this a morning ritual for the office if it seems that your team is rejuvenated and energized by your stretching sessions.

5-Minute Trivia

Who doesn't love trivia?

If you feel like your entire team is looking a little lackluster, a quick five-minute trivia game might be the perfect thing to perk up their spirits.

Team Playing a Game

This activity takes a bit of preparation ahead of time, as you'll want to come up with interesting categories and a handful of questions for each. You might consider incorporating a mix of interesting general facts and questions about your organization.

Show and Tell

Whether you have an in-office or remote team, people can work together for years without feeling like their coworkers know them. You'll find that your employees are much happier to show up to work and participate as a team when they feel as though their colleagues understand them.

One classic way to help your team share a bit about themselves is with a game of Show and Tell.

Remote Show and Tell

Give your team a heads-up several days ahead of time and ask them to bring an object from their home or office that is meaningful to them. They can each have the opportunity to show off their item and share why it's important to them and what it signifies.

Dance Session

If your team is made up of introverts who prefer to be left alone, you might find it challenging to engage them in a dance session. However, there are so many positive benefits to dancing, both physically and mentally, that it's hard not to mention it as one of the best team-building activities.

Team Dance Session

Even if your team finds the activity a bit awkward and silly, you'll likely find that they are invigorated after the fact and much more conversational than before the dance session. Soon enough, they'll suggest you take brief dance breaks when meetings are getting stiff.

Word Association

If you're looking to boost your team's communication skills, consider a short Word Association game. 

You can use this activity to help give your team a mental break or to get them in the right state of mind for an important meeting.

Word Association Game

This game is both very easy and incredibly engaging. All you have to do is give a prompt word to your team and ask them to take turns sharing one word they associate with the prompt. Each team member can briefly explain why that association exists in their mind.

Are you tasked with building and training a customer service team? Check out this article to learn how to create a world-class customer-facing team.

What's My Name?

This is an excellent choice if you're looking for an activity for team members who don't know each other very well. Even though this is traditionally a party game, it's increasingly being used in offices and boardrooms.

All you need is a pen, some slips of paper, and tape. You can also use sticky notes instead of paper and tape.

Whats My Name Game

On the pieces of paper or sticky notes, write the names of famous people that everyone should be familiar with. Then you'll stick these on the foreheads of your team members, with each worker getting one piece of paper.

The next step is to pair everyone off with one other person. These two people can proceed to ask each other yes or no questions to help them guess what's written on the paper stuck to their forehead.

Bucket List

Another classic choice when it comes to team-building activities is the Bucket List.

When we talk to our coworkers about ourselves, we often focus on particular things like where we grew up, where we went to college, or our last place of employment.

While there's nothing wrong with this, this type of autobiography doesn't let us tap into each other's goals and motivations.

Team Describing Bucket List

The Bucket List game is a quick and easy way for people to share what matters to them. All you have to do is have each team member share one item from their "Bucket List" (the list of things they want to do before they die) and say a little bit about why they are drawn to this accomplishment.

The only problem with this game is that you might have difficulty keeping it to five minutes because it will spark so many interesting conversations!

Never Have I Ever

Another drinking game that has started to make its way into the corporate environment is Never Have I Ever. This is a fun and easy game that never fails to break the ice.

To play, players begin with five fingers up, and each player lists off a past behavior they've never done. Any other teammates that have participated in that behavior will put one of their fingers down. When a person puts all five of their fingers down, they're eliminated from the game.

Employee Playing Never Have I Ever

Of course, the office version of this game will have to be work-appropriate and clean. You might ask people to state something they've never done at the office, or for remote workers, something they've never done while working.

Engaging Team Building Games From HRDQ

While incorporating short, five-minute games into the workday is a fantastic way to help boost engagement and encourage teamwork, that doesn't mean you should entirely forgo more involved activities.

At HRDQ, we offer several team-building training products that can help bring your team closer together and increase their ability to set and achieve goals.

Engaging Team Building Game

One such game is Jungle Escape. As one of our best-selling team-building games, this will whisk your entire team away from the office and into a survival scenario. To survive, your team must work together to build a helicopter out of limited parts to escape.

Another popular choice is our Team Adventure Series. Your team can absorb key training lessons while participating in these training simulation exercises. Your team will be having so much fun that they'll hardly notice that they are improving essential skills!

If you're looking for team-building activities that will take your organization to the next level, be sure to check out our team-building training products.

2023 Update - Bonus Activities!

Here are nine more activities that we added that are quick, engaging, and fun team-building activities, along with the intended audience and why they are effective. 

Blind Drawing

Great for: a creative challenge to help team members bond one-on-one

How it Works

Blind Drawing gives your team members a chance to tap into their creative side. You'll need pen and paper—or mini-whiteboards and markers—and some pictures. Team members pair up and sit back to back. One is given drawing materials. The other is given a picture, making sure their partner can't see it.

Each round takes one minute. The partner with the picture can describe what is in the picture indirectly. They can't say "Draw a grizzly bear in the woods," but they can describe what they see using adjectives like "roar, scary, wild, big teeth" and so on. When time ends, all groups compare their drawings. The results are often hilarious and help your team members gain insight into the challenges of communicating clearly.

Paper Tower

Great for: an engineering challenge to help your team build a growth mindset

How it Works

Paper Tower is super simple. With just a few sheets of paper, teams get five minutes to build the tallest paper tower they can. Teams can't use any other materials (no tape, glue, etc.). They can only fold or tear their pieces of paper.

Some teams play this with as many as 20 sheets of paper per team, others with just one or two. Whatever you choose, be sure to give timing reminders along the way at the three-minute mark and the one-minute mark. When it's over, take time to discuss what your team members learned from the activity.

Step It Up

For a more robust variation on Paper Tower, try other engineering games. One of our favorites is Tall Ships. In Tall Ships, teams must race against the clock (and other teams) to build the tallest ship mast at the lowest cost. In this engaging team-building activity, players learn and practice the skills most critical to effective team performance, including Clarity, Capability, Collaboration, Commitment, Communication, Continuous Improvement, and Creativity.

Shop Tall Ships at HRDQ

Ninja

Great for: a quick break to get team members energized

How it Works

The object of the game is to be the "ultimate ninja"—the team member with the fastest reflexes. Find a large space where your whole team can stand in a circle. Team members form a circle, standing one large step away from the team member on either side of them. When the group leader calls out "Ultimate NINJA!!!" each team member gets in a ninja pose.

Choose a person to begin the game. The first player can either try to strike the next player's hand or make a movement (for example, taking a step in any direction). As soon as the player has taken their turn, play immediately proceeds to the next player. If a player tries to strike your hand, you're allowed to move to try to dodge them. If you successfully dodge them, you have to hold whatever position you moved into until it's your turn... and if you don't, you're out and have to leave the circle.

Continue around the circle until one player remains—the ultimate ninja. It's a lot simpler than it sounds. Ninja is a fast, thrilling game your team will love.

Frustration

Great for: a challenging, hilarious competition to help team members bond

How it Works

You'll need several sets of chopsticks, bowls, and plenty of candy. Choose small round candies like M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, or Raisinets.

Divide the group into teams. Each team gets two bowls. Pour candy into one bowl, leaving the other one empty. The object of the game is to move as many pieces of candy as possible to the empty bowl, one at a time, using chopsticks. Players must keep their other hand behind their back so they don't move or touch the bowl. Allow one member from each team to try this activity while the rest of the group watches, then rotate so that all team members get a chance to play.

Swedish Story

Great for: an entertaining activity for a group that challenges participants to think on their feet

How it Works

Swedish Story is a fun, fast-moving game that blends storytelling and teamwork. One person is the storyteller, while two to four others are word givers.

Before the storyteller begins, the word givers provide a title that the storyteller must talk about. Once the storyteller begins telling the story, word givers yell random words that must be incorporated into the story. Words should be completely off-topic to keep things interesting. Depending on your team's personalities, you may want to remind team members to keep it clean. For example, in a story about "taking a trip to Florida," word givers might shout out words like "avalanche," "Machu Picchu," "lemmings," or "Batman."

Swedish Story is addictive because it forces storytellers to be creative and think on their feet. You'll probably be surprised by what your team members come up with!

Pirate's Treasure

Great for: a stealthy energizer your team will totally get into

How it Works

Pirate's Treasure is all about being sneaky. Choose one person to sit on a chair in the center of a circle. Place an item under the chair. That's the treasure. Blindfold the volunteer.

The rest of the group forms a circle around the chair. These group members are pirates. The goal of the game is for a pirate to capture the treasure undetected by the volunteer.

To start, pirates should begin walking around the chair and then silently agree on one person who'll try to capture the treasure. If the pirate captures it successfully, the round is over and that person becomes the new volunteer. If the blindfolded volunteer points at the pirate while they are trying to capture the treasure, they're out of the game.

Step It Up

Pirate’s Treasure could be a great lead-in for a more robust training program including the Marooned training simulation from HRDQ. Marooned is an excellent training tool for any team, and it's particularly effective as an exercise for newly-formed teams, groups that have been assigned to a new project, or an icebreaker game.

Marooned on an island with only the possessions they were carrying and the clothes on their backs, the group is left to draft a survival plan! This two-hour workshop explores the concept of synergy and helps teams to develop vital group-process skills such as decision-making and interpersonal communication.

Shop Marooned at HRDQ

I Have Never...

Great for: starting conversations that help team members get to know each other at a deeper level

How it Works

Start by giving an equal amount of candy to every team member. Go around the circle. Each person finishes the sentence "I have never..." with something they've never done—for example, "I have never been to Japan." If anyone in the group has been to Japan, they give that person one of their candies.

Be ready. This game can spin into a competition surprisingly quickly! Team members may try to one-up each other, proving that they are the most experienced and have done the craziest things. You may need to set a few ground rules on what people can share. But done right, this is one of the most fun and engaging activities we know.

Two Sides of a Coin

Great for: building a growth mindset and helping team members get to know each other

How it Works

Divide the group into pairs. For best results, pair up participants who may not already be best buddies in the office.

The first partner shares a negative life experience. This could be something from their work or professional life, as long as it's a true story. After listening to the story, the partners discuss ways of reframing the story in a positive light. The first partner then tells the story again, focusing on the positive aspects. Partners switch roles, and the second partner shares an experience.

This activity is a great way to help people see the good in experiences they may have a negative perspective on.

Question Friday

Great for: creating camaraderie and a sense of togetherness in remote teams

How it Works

Set aside a short time every Friday for your remote team to jump into a chat in Slack, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or whatever team collaboration space you use. Designate a person as the Question Master to ask a question to the rest of the group. Questions can range from the mundane to the truly thought-provoking:

  • What's your favorite cereal?
  • If you were to go back to your high school graduation, what would you get a degree in and why?

When people on your team open themselves up for these moments of vulnerability with their teammates, even in a remote group, you'll see better collaboration and greater satisfaction with your organization as a whole.

Your Turn

Do you know of any other engaging team building activities that you feel should be added to this list? If so, be sure to leave a comment down below, and let us know about the activity you have in mind! We'd love to make this list as comprehensive as possible, so we'd be more than happy to update it as need be! We can't wait to hear what you think!

Related Products of Interest

Recommended Assessment
Team Effectiveness Profile
  • Improves group output
  • Increase work satisfaction
  • Identify and fix group issues
Learn more
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Comments

The Garden Venue - June 23, 2023

Great post. Team building games are used by large or small businesses to promote teamwork. Teamwork is one of the key factors behind a company’s success.

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.