Easy & Engaging 5-Minute Team Building Activities for Work

Easy & Engaging 5-Minute Team Building Activities for Work

Giving your team plenty of fun, unpressured opportunities for interaction can help your team take it to the next level. But planning team-building activities isn't easy. It can be a struggle to engage your team. Here are ten 5-minute team-building activities for work that we love. These are fun, energetic activities that help people really connect—the perfect ice breakers and energizers to incorporate into your training program.

Want more engaging ways to help you improve the function of your team? Explore the HRDQ Team Building activity collection

Why Are Team Building Activities Important?

Over 86% of employees say that poor collaboration is to blame for workplace failures. That's according to a recent study on successful teams by Fierce.

Everyone knows great teamwork is crucial for delivering workplace results. And the key to successful teams? Great communication. Communication habits can elevate a team from "meh" to magnificent. On the most productive teams, colleagues tend to have friendly, social, collaborative habits of conversation that make work interactions easy. In fact, MIT researchers have found that 35% of the variation in a team's performance is attributable to the number of face-to-face interactions between team members.

Engaging team building activities can help employees learn to surface, diagnose and work through issues that impede effective teamwork—all in a safe, fun environment.

More great resources:

Top 5-Minute Team Building Activities

Here are some of the top 5-minute team building activities for work:

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 sees 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 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 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 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

Every organization needs effective teams. Teams that communicate well enjoy working together more and deliver better results. With team building options to fit any organization, the training experts at HRDQ are here to help. Visit the team building section at the HRDQ store to find more great team building assessments, activities, workshops, and games!

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