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5-minute team building activities

5-Minute Team Building Activities: 28 Quickies for Detached Colleagues and Students

Lawrence Haywood 13 Sep 2021 15 min read

Here we lay out a bumper list of 28 5-minute team building activities, perfect for injecting a little team spirit throughout the work or school day.

We’ve all been there. Those supposedly ‘quick’ team-building sessions that have dragged for a painfully long time.

Participants are getting bored, bosses are losing patience and everyone’s wasting valuable time.

Building a team doesn’t happen in one long sitting. It’s a journey that’s taken one short step at a time.

You don’t need a weekend retreat, a full day of activities or even an afternoon to boost team morale. A steady flow of 5-minute team building activities over time can be the difference between a disparate team and one that works professionally, supportively and genuinely together.

Check out the 28 quick + easy team building activities below and start building a team that works.

Full Disclaimer: Some of these 5-minute building activities might last 10 minutes, or even 15 minutes. Please don’t sue us.

5-Minute Team Building Activities that Work Online

The demand for remote-friendly, virtual team building activities is showing no signs of dying down. Here are 13 quick ideas to ensure that teams don’t lose spirit online.

#1 – Quiz

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

There’s just no way to kick off this list without what we consider the ultimate in 5-minute team building activities.

Everyone loves a quiz. Check with Neil de Grasse Tyson – it’s an indisputable fact. And 5 minutes is plenty of time for a quick, 10-question team quiz that gets brains firing on all cylinders.

Simple team quizzes are made for the virtual workspace or school. They’re remote-friendly, teamwork-friendly and 100% wallet-friendly with the right software.

How it Works

  1. Create or download a 10-question quiz on free quizzing software.
  2. Invite your players to join the quiz on their phones.
  3. Put players into teams that they wouldn’t have chosen themselves.
  4. Proceed through the quiz and see who comes out on top!
A quiz on AhaSlides as a 5-minute team building activity
A phone screen showing the player view of an online quiz using AhaSlides

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#2 – Never Have I Ever

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

The classic university drinking game. Never Have I Ever has been around for decades in our highest educational institutions, but is often forgotten about when it comes to team-building.

This is a great, quick game to help colleagues or students understand the kind of outlandish characters they’re working with. It usually ends up with a lot of follow up questions.

How it Works

  1. Spin the AhaSlides wheel below to pick a random never have I ever statement.
  2. When the statement is chosen, all those who have never done what the statement says will raise their hand.
  3. Team members can question the people with their hands down about the sordid details of the thing they have done.

Protip πŸ‘Š You can add any of your own never have I ever statements on the wheel above. Use it on a free AhaSlides account to invite your audience to join the wheel.

#3 – Zoomed-in Favourites

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

There’s always at least one person at the office with a favourite mug, a favourite perfume or a favourite desktop photo of their cat.

Zoomed-in Favourites gets team members to guess which colleague owns an item by a zoomed in picture of that item.

How it Works

  1. Get each team member to secretly give you an image of their favourite workplace object.
  2. Offer a zoomed-in image of the object and ask everyone what the object is and who it belongs to.
  3. Reveal the full-scale image afterwards.
Zoomed-in image on AhaSlides

#4 – One-Word Storyline

Great stories are very rarely improvised on the spot, but that’s not to say we can’t try.

One-Word Storyline gets team members to sync up with each other and create a powerful, 1-minute story, one word at a time.

How it Works

  1. Separate players into several small groups, with about 3 or 4 members in each.
  2. Decide on the order of team members in each group.
  3. Give the first member of the first group a word and start a 1-minute timer.
  4. The second player then says another word, then the third and the fourth, until the time is up.
  5. Write down the words as they come, then get the group to read out the full story at the end.
Image credit: One Word Story

#5 – Yearbook Awards

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

High school yearbooks famously make a lot of claims as to the predicted future success of their students.

Most likely to succeed, most likely to marry first, most likely to write an award-winning comedic play and then spaff all their earnings on vintage pinball machines. That kind of thing.

Take a leaf out of those yearbooks. Come up with some abstract scenarios, ask your players who’s the most likely and take in the votes.

How it Works

  1. Think of a bunch of scenarios and make a multiple choice slide for each.
  2. Ask who’s most likely to be the protagonist in each scenario.
  3. Pose the questions to your players and watch the votes roll in!
Yearbook Award as a quick 5-minute team building activity for work or school

#6 – 2 Truths 1 Lie

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

Here’s a titan of 5-minute team building activities. 2 Truths 1 Lie has been getting teammates familiar with each other since teams first formed.

We all know the format – someone thinks of two truths about themselves, as well as one lie, then challenges others to figure out which one is the lie.

There are a couple of ways to play, depending on whether or not you want your players to be able to ask questions. For the purposes of a quick team-building activity, we’d recommend letting those players ask away.

How it Works

  1. Before the activity starts, choose someone to come up with 2 truths and 1 lie.
  2. When you kick off the team building, ask that player to announce their 2 truths and 1 lie.
  3. Set a 5-minute timer and encourage everyone to ask questions to uncover the lie.
2 truths 1 lie as a 5-minute team building activity to get colleagues familiar with each other.

#7 – Tell an Embarrassing Story

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

As an alternative to 2 Truths 1 Lie, you might simply want to cut out the middleman and get everyone to straight up Tell an Embarrassing Story.

The twist to this one is that everyone submits their story in writing, all anonymously. Go through each one and get everyone to vote on who the story belongs to.

How it Works

  1. Give everyone a couple of minutes to write down an embarrassing story.
  2. Go through each story and read them aloud.
  3. Take a vote after each story to see who people thought it belonged to.
Anonymous sharing of an embarrassing story on AhaSlides.

Did you know? πŸ’‘ Sharing embarrassing stories can lead to more productive, open and collaborative meetings. Check out 10 other ways to kick off a meeting right.

#8 – Baby Pictures

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

On the theme of embarrassment, this next 5-minute team building activity is sure to evoke some blushed faces.

Get everyone to send you a baby picture before you kick off the proceedings (bonus points for ridiculous attire or facial expressions), then see who can guess who that baby grew into!

How it Works

  1. Gather one baby picture from each of your players.
  2. Show all of the pictures and ask everyone to match each one with the adult.
Baby Pictures as a 5-minute team building activity using AhaSlides software.

#9 – Pictionary

— Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ Excalidraw

A total Victorian-era classic. Pictionary needs no introduction.

How it Works

  1. Put your players into small teams.
  2. Give each player a word and don’t let them show anyone, especially other players in their team.
  3. Call on each player to illustrate their words one-by-one.
  4. Players of that illustrator’s team have 1 minute to guess what the drawing is.
  5. If they can’t guess, each other team can make 1 suggestion about what they think it is.
Playing pictionary online as a virtual, short team-building activity

#10 – Describe a Drawing

— Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ Excalidraw

If everyone’s in the artistic mood from the previous short team building activity, keep up the hype with Describe a Drawing.

Essentially this is like a reverse Pictionary. Players must only use words to describe an image to their teammates, who have to replicate the drawing to the best of their abilities.

The more abstract and eventful the image, the funnier the descriptions and the replicas!

How it Works

  1. Give someone an image and don’t let them show anyone.
  2. That person describes their image just using words.
  3. Everyone else has to draw the image based on the description.
  4. After 5 minutes, you reveal the original image and judge which player got the most accurate replica.
Drawing on Excalidraw based on a description of an image.

#11 – 21 Questions

Another classic here.

To up the team building for this activity, it’s best to arrange your crew into teams and have each member think of a celebrity. All other team members get 21 ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions to try and guess their teammate’s answer.

Protip πŸ‘Š Scaling the questions down to 10 means that team members have to work together to narrow down the best questions to ask.

How it Works

  1. Put players into small teams and tell each member to think of a celebrity.
  2. Pick one member from each team.
  3. Players work together (with 21 or 10 questions) to figure out their teammate’s celebrity.
  4. Repeat for all members of each team.

#12 – Desert Island Disaster

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

We’ve all wondered what it would be like to be stranded on a desert island. There are even entire TV and radio shows based around what we would take.

In a world where we all worked with Tom Hanks, this 5-minute team building activity would probably end in 20 seconds. He may be happy with just a volleyball, but we’re guessing that your players may have some creature comforts they simply couldn’t give up.

Desert Island Disaster is all about guessing exactly what those comforts are.

How it Works

  1. Tell each player to come up with 3 items they would need on a desert island.
  2. Pick one player. Each other player suggests the 3 items they think they would take.
  3. Points go to anyone who correctly guesses any of the items.
Desert Island Disaster as a 5-minute team building activity

#13 – Bucket List Match-up

Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ AhaSlides

There’s a wide world outside of the 4 walls of the office (or the home office). Some people want to swim with dolphins, some want to see the pyramids of Giza, while others just want to be able to go to the supermarket in their pyjamas without being judged.

See who dreams big in Bucket List Match-up.

How it Works

  1. Beforehand, get everyone to tell you one item on their bucket lists.
  2. Write them all down in a series of multiple choice questions and provide some potential answers for who owns that bucket list item.
  3. During the activity, players match the bucket list item with the person who owns it.
Using a multiple choice slide to play bucket list match-up as a 5-minute team building activity

Make online and offline team building activities with AhaSlides’ interactive engagement software πŸ’‘ Click the button below to sign up for free!

5-Minute Team Building Activities for the Active Office

Part of the point of team building activities in general is to get bums off seats and introduce a bit of mobility to the office or classroom. These 11 outdoor and indoor team building ideas are sure to get the energy flowing.

#14 – Human Bingo

— Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ My Free Bingo Cards

It’s safe to say that there’s an awful lot that the average employee doesn’t know about his or her colleagues. There are a lot of informative gems to uncover, and Human Bingo helps you do just that.

For this one, you can really think outside the box and try to unearth some truly interesting human facts amongst your players.

How it Works

  1. Create a human bingo card with attributes like ‘find someone who hates your favourite fruit‘.
  2. Give everyone a card each.
  3. Players go around and try to fill out their card by asking others about whether an attribute on the card applies to that person.
  4. If it does, that person signs their name on the bingo square. If it doesn’t, the player continues asking that person until they get one.
  5. Once they have one, they must move onto the next person.
Philippine Embassy in Athens engaged in a 5-minute building activity.
Image credit: Phillippine Embassy

#15 – Distanced Debate

In-office debates are pretty much a daily occurance in a lot of workplaces, but they tend to stay at the desk.

Getting everyone to move around and taking literal sides is the idea of Distanced Debate. It’s great not just as a quick team building break, but also as a way to clearly see which side (of the room) everyone’s on.

Keep statements lighthearted for this one. Stuff like “Milk always goes first in a bowl of cereal” is perfect for causing some hilarious but harmless controversy.

How it Works

  1. Everyone stands in the middle of the room and you read out a harmlessly controversial statement.
  2. People who agree with the statement move to one side of the room, while people who disagree move to the other. People on the fence about it simply stay in the middle.
  3. People have a civilised debate across the room about their stances.
People having a distanced debate from across the room.
Image credit: CBC

#16 – Recreate a Movie

If there were any positives to take from 2020’s lockdown, one was certainly the creative ways in which people staved off the boredom.

Recreate a Movie revives some of this creativity by getting small groups to play out famous movie scenes with whatever props they can find.

How it Works

  1. Put players into teams and give them a movie each.
  2. Players choose any scene from that movie to act out, using props if they want.
  3. Teams get 5 minutes to plan their re-enactment, then 1 minute to perform it.
  4. Each person votes on their favourite re-enactment.
Man recreating a movie with household items.
Image credit: Sad and Useless

#17 – Team Balloon Pop

One of the favourites from the AhaSlides team building retreat in 2019. Team Balloon Pop requires speed, power, dexterity and the ability to quell the voice in your head telling you that you’re a 35 year-old man who’s too old for this kind of thing.

How it Works

  1. Put players into teams of 4.
  2. Place two members of each team on one line, then the other 2 players of each team on another line about 30 metres away.
  3. When you shout Go, player 1 ties an inflated balloon around their back with string, then runs to their teammate on the other line.
  4. When the two players meet, they pop the balloon by squeezing it in between their backs.
  5. Player 1 runs to the back of that line and player 2 repeats the process.
  6. First team to pop all of their balloons wins!
Two girls playing team balloon pop in a 5-minute team building activity in the woods.

#18 – Minefield Egg Race

Ever considered an egg and spoon race to be far too easy? Maybe you should try it blindfolded and with an array of stuff scattered in your way.

Well, that’s the premise of Minefield Egg Race, where blindfolded players navigate an obstacle course directed purely by their teammate.

How it Works

  1. Lay some obstacles across a field.
  2. Put players into pairs.
  3. Blindfold one player and give them an egg and spoon.
  4. When you shout Go, players try to make it from the start to the finish line under the guidance of their teammate, who walks beside them.
  5. If they drop their egg or touch an obstacle, they have to start again.
Two people playing minefield egg race outdoors
Image credit: HireAPitch

#19 – Act out the Idiom

Every language has a wealth of idioms that everyone knows, but ones that also sound super weird when you really think about them.

Like, what’s up with a different kettle of fish, Bob’s your uncle, and all mouth and no trousers?

Still, it’s that weirdness, and the hilarity that ensues from acting them out, that makes them great candidates for a 5-minute team building activity.

How it Works

  1. Put players into even teams and line them up facing the back of the person in front.
  2. Give the players at the back of their lines the same idiom.
  3. When you shout Go, the player at the back acts out the idiom to the player in front of them.
  4. When they have the idiom, that player turns back around, taps the shoulder of the person in front, and acts it out.
  5. Repeat the process until a team reaches the end of the line and the final player makes a correct guess about what the idiom is.
An illustration of the idiom 'all mouth and no trousers'.
Image credit: Neil Kupras

#20 – Back drawing

If Act out the Idiom is like back charades, then Back Drawing is essentially back pictionary.

This is another trend from lockdown that’s made its way into the realms of 5-minute team building activities. It requires people to establish a bit of a wavelength with their partners and can have some hilarious results.

How it Works

  1. Put players into pairs, with player 2 standing in front of player 1 and facing a whiteboard.
  2. Show all the player 1s the same image.
  3. When you shout Go, player 1 turns around and draws the image on a piece of paper in contact with player 2’s back.
  4. Player 2 tries to replicate the image on the board just from the feel on their back.
  5. First player 2 to correctly guess what the image is wins, with bonus points to the team with the best player 2 drawing.
Two people playing back drawing as a 5-minute team building activity
Image credit: Rare

#21 – Spaghetti Tower

Hey, there’s a Spaghetti Junction, why not a Spaghetti Tower?

You can right this injustice in this 5-minute team building activity, which challenges minds and hands in the ultimate test of team planning and execution.

The aim, as it always should be in life, is to make the tallest freestanding tower of dried spaghetti that’s crowned by a marshmallow.

How it Works

  1. Put players into small teams.
  2. Give each team a handful of dried spaghetti, a roll of tape, a pair of scissors and some marshmallows.
  3. When you shout Go, each team has 5-10 minutes to build the tallest tower.
  4. When you shout Stop, the tallest freestanding tower with a marshmallow on top is the winner!
AhaSlides retreat 2021, playing spaghetti tower as a short team-building activity.

#22 – Paper Plane Parade

Not all of us were blessed with the ability to craft a paper plane that glides like a F-117 Nighthawk. But that’s no problem, because Paper Plane Parade rewards all types of planes, no matter how useless they appear to fly.

This small group team building activity not only rewards teams with fliers that go the farthest or stay airborne the longest, but also the ones with premium aesthetic value.

How it Works

  1. Put players into teams of 3.
  2. Give each team a bunch of paper, some tape and some colouring pens.
  3. Give each team 5 minutes to make 3 types of plane.
  4. The prizes go to the plane that flies the farthest, the one that flies for the longest time and the one that looks the best.
Two friends playing with paper planes

#23 – Team Cup Stack

As the old saying goes: if you want to see who your leaders are, give them a bunch of cups to stack.

You’ll certainly find who your leaders are in Team Cup Stack. This one encourages constant communication, patience, perseverance and the fulfillment of a solid plan in a surprisingly difficult team task.

How it Works

  1. Put players into small teams of 5.
  2. Give each group a rubber band with 5 strings attached and 10 plastic cups.
  3. Each player grabs a string and pulls to stretch the rubber band over a cup.
  4. Teams must build a pyramid from the cups only by touching the string.
  5. Fastest team wins!
Students playing team cup stack together
Image credit: Ms. Sepp

#24 – Indian Leg Wrestling

We’re upping the aggression as we approach the end of this list of speedy team building activities.

Indian Leg Wrestling is certainly best for students or younger employees, but really works for anyone who likes a bit of physicality in their team activities.

Watch the quick video explainer about how it works below πŸ‘‡

How it Works

  1. Put players into small teams.
  2. Have one player from each team leg wrestle with one player from every other team. Repeat until everyone has wrestled.
  3. 2 points for a win, 0 for defeat.
  4. Top 4 teams play the semi-final and the final!

5-Minute Team Building Brain Teasers

Not everyone is on board with full-action team-building activities. Sometimes it’s nice to slow it down with a brain teaser, in which teams have to tackle problems from different angles and come up with a solution.

#25 – Matchstick Challenge

— Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ LogicLike

You know these puzzles – the kind that crop up every now and then on your Facebook feed and infuriate you no-end because you can’t get the answer.

Well take it from us, they’re much less annoying when you’re working on them as a team.

Matchstick puzzles are actually great for training attention to detail and teamwork.

How it Works

  1. Put everyone into small groups.
  2. Give each group a series of matchstick puzzles to solve.
  3. Whichever team solves them fastest is the winner!
A mathematical matchstick puzzle
Image credit: Suresolv

#26 – Riddle Challenge

— Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ GPuzzles

Not much explanation needed here. Just give out a riddle and see who can crack it the fastest.

How it Works

  1. Put everyone into small groups.
  2. Give each group a series of matchstick puzzles to solve.
  3. Whichever team solves them fastest is the winner!
People writing notes in a meeting.

#27 – Logo Challenge

— Best tool for the job πŸ”¨ Digital Synopsis

There are some truly magnificent logos out there, ones with exquisite hidden facets that you may not get at first glance.

Logo Challenge is all about the attention to detail. It’s recognising the small touches of beautiful design and what they stand for.

How it Works

  1. Put everyone into small groups.
  2. Give each group a bunch of logos and tell them to find the hidden meanings of each.
  3. Teams write down what they think is the hidden facet and what it represents.
  4. Quickest to get all of them wins!
Logo for Spartan Golf Club by Richard Fonteneau.
Image credit: Richard Fonteneau

#28 – 6-Degree Challenge

Did you know that the first link in 97% of Wikipedia articles, when clicked enough, eventually leads to the article on Philosophy? Seemingly that article is always a few degrees from separation from pretty much every topic in the universe.

Tasking your crew to make similar connections between seemingly unconnected topics is a great 5-minute team building puzzle for getting people to tackle problems in unorthodox and creative ways.

How it Works

  1. Put everyone into small groups.
  2. Give each group two random items that seemingly have nothing to do with each other.
  3. Give each team 5 minutes to write down how item 1 connects to item 2 in six degrees or less.
  4. Each team reads their 6 degrees and you decide whether or not the connections are too tenuous!
6 degrees of separation as a 5-minute teambuilding activity.
Image credit: Republic of Health
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