Giving your team plenty of fun, no pressured 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.
Top 5-Minute Team Building Activities
Here are some of the top 5-minute team building activities for work:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.