16 Non-Cheesy 5 Minute Virtual Team Building Activities
Every remote manager knows the importance—and challenge—of bringing remote teams together. Remote teams are dispersed across locations and timezones, limiting the casual interactions that unite teams who share a physical workspace. But remote teams also struggle with loneliness and isolation, making workplace team spirit and well-being even more important.
Many managers will schedule long team-building exercises and happy hours to unite their teams. But these long meetings are often inconvenient because they get in the way of finishing work and require dispersed teams to meet outside of working hours. Also, most of them are painfully cheesy.
You don’t need to schedule a full hour-long Zoom meeting for remote team bonding. The fun games and activities below can fit at the beginning or end of regularly scheduled team meetings or even on Slack. Keep reading for 16 unique activities to help your team:
- Break the ice
- Bond and build trust
- Enhance their problem-solving skills
- Get their creative gears working
- Boost team morale
- Increase employee engagement
- Build a healthier work environment and company culture
Team-building activities for new teams
New teams are always a bit awkward. Ice-breaker games and group activities can help your team feel more comfortable from the very first team meeting.
Here are 4 quick team building activities to get past the awkward phase of guess who and start building the foundation of camaraderie in your team:
Hot Seat is a great team-building activity to introduce an individual to the rest of the team. Get everyone on a video meeting and pepper them with hyper-specific questions about their past. Some teams might blindfold the person in the hot seat to facilitate a goofier environment, but only do so if the person is enthusiastic about the idea.
Some icebreaker questions include:
- What was your favorite band growing up?
- What’s on your bucket list?
- What is the first vacation you remember?
- What book would you bring to a desert island?
- How did you feel when you landed your first job?
- Is there any special accomplishment you remember from middle school?
Samen Drawkcab (“Backward Names,” spelled backward) is a simple way for new team members to learn one another’s names. You can play the game with large groups of people in 5-10 minutes.
The rules are simple:
- Every person pronounces their name backward, one by one
- The group has to guess the real name of each person that has said their name backward
Two Truths and a Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is an excellent way to show off your team members’ creativity, sense of humor, and unique personal history. You can play this game with large groups but if your team exceeds 20 people, consider splitting into breakout rooms.
- Ask each team member to write down two truths and one lie about themselves on a sheet of paper before the meeting
- Make sure these facts are personal anecdotes, rather than work-related facts
- During the meeting, take each set of two truths and one lie and read it in front of the entire team
- Ask each member of the team to guess which of the facts are true and which are lies
- The person who makes the most correct guesses wins the game
Dinner Party is a quick trivia game that prompts new team members to reveal fun personality facts. You can limit the game to five minutes or play longer. The game is simple: at the beginning of your first meeting together, ask each team member to name three people, living or dead, they would invite to a dinner party. Have them explain why, especially if it’s a unique choice.
Team-building activities to challenge problem-solving skills
The following team-building games will help your team get their problem-solving skills on point—just enough to “warm up” for the real business problems your team solves.
Word Association is a fun team game that only takes 5-10 minutes, even with a large group. The goal is to stimulate your team’s creativity and show how everyone thinks differently.
All you have to do is give your team a word and ask them to say (or write) the first thing that comes to mind. Continue associating based on the associated word. After a few rounds, compare responses to see each person’s association journey.
Object Memory is a 5 minute team building activity that will train your team’s brains while teaching an important lesson about the power of teamwork and communication skills.
Small teams can play the game in under 5 minutes. It may take longer for larger teams.
The rules are easy:
- Write down 30 words on a virtual whiteboard and share your screen for 30 seconds with the team
- Ask the team to write down as many words as they remember in 30 seconds
- Split the team in small groups
- Ask each group to work together to remember more words and pool together everything they find
Get Them to Draw It
Get Them to Draw It is a fun activity that only takes about 5-10 minutes. The main goal of the game is to help everyone pay attention, challenge assumptions, and think outside the box.
You can play the game in large teams but it works best on teams of fewer than five people.
- Select one team member and secretly show them an image of overlapping triangles, circles, and squares drawn on a piece of paper
- Ask the selected team member to get the rest of the team to replicate the drawing without mentioning its elements (circle, triangle, and square)
- The team may struggle to perfectly replicate the image
- At the end, point out that you never mentioned whether or not the describer can show the original drawing to the team during the game
Dog, Rice, and Chicken
Dog, Rice, and Chicken is a logic and problem-solving game that you can play in Slack or over video calls. It will only take 5-10 minutes, regardless of the size of the group.
The basic rule is simple: one of the team members is the Farmer, and the other ones are the Villagers. The Farmer has a Dog, Rice, and Chicken problem, and the Villagers have to find a solution.
This is the Farmer’s problem:
- The farmer need to get a dog, bag of rice, and chicken across the river to get home, but can only carry one item at a time on his boat
- If he leaves the dog alone with the chicken, the dog will eat the chicken
- If he leaves the chicken alone with the rice, the chicken will eat the rice
- How can the Farmer safely get all the three items on the other side of the river?
If you enjoy Dog, Rice, and Chicken, check out this collection of similar riddles.
Ongoing team-building activities
Some team games are a one-off, but these games and activities can be a throughline for weeks, months, or even years.
Meeting Roulette is a fun way to help your teammates get to know each other. The game is particularly helpful for full-remote and hybrid teams where people from different departments don’t interact with each other as much.
You can use a service such as Connections (by Roots) to automatically connect random teammates to introduce themselves and chat for a few minutes. You can set up Connections to run for as long as you want to, and it can also help onboard new teammates by introducing them to the rest of the group.
Articulate takes five minutes for groups of 15 or fewer people. You can play it over several weeks, taking turns as the main character.
The rules are as follows:
- Give your main player a list of 10 words
- Ask them to describe the words in front of the other team members
- They cannot use the actual words you’ve given them, but they have to give the other members clues that indicate what the words actually are
- If the main player manages to have the team guess one of the words, they move on to the second, third, etc.
For an additional level of challenge, have the main player describe the 10 words with charades instead of verbal clues.
The Slipper Dilemma
The Slipper Dilemma is one of our favorite 5 minute team building ideas. It can be played by 5-10 people and it’s a really fun way of incorporating the “work from home” specificities into your team games.
The rules are very easy: During any of your meetings, if someone in your team shouts “Slippers,” everyone has to move their camera to their feet, showing what they are wearing.
The Jukebox is a great game for teams of any size. The facilitator creates a Spotify playlist each month according to a theme. They ask team members to each add a song that fits the theme to the playlist.
Some “Jukebox” theme ideas could include:
- The first band I saw in concert in high school
- The band I will always like listening to
- One song that always energizes me
Create a new playlist with a new theme every week or every two weeks to make this a recurrent team activity.
Team-building activities for large groups
Virtual scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts energize a team, improve teamwork, and bring a bit of humor into your remote-working life. The good news is that you can play them virtually too, and there are many versions available out there—including 5 minute versions.
Create a list of items people normally have around the house and give the whole team five minutes to find those items. Whoever finds them first wins the game.
Meme Chat is another 5 minute team building activity people get a kick out of.
Ask team members to find a meme that represents the company. You can discuss the memes in meetings over a given period of time (allowing no more than 5 minutes for each description). Alternatively, you can ask everyone to post their memes in a Slack channel and have the rest of the company vote the best meme.
This or That
This or That helps people spark discussion and get to know each other a little better. You can play it with a group of any size, via video or in your preferred chat tool. The point is to ask a “this or that” question every week and let people discuss their answers.
Set a time limit for all the chats or move them to a dedicated Slack channel where people can chip in whenever they have a couple of minutes.
Possible questions include:
- Mountain or ocean?
- Jazz or rock?
- Comedy or action?
- Breakfast or lunch?
One of the best things about remote teams is their diversity.Bring this diversity into your company culture by giving people the opportunity to share their culture and holidays.
Ask each team member to enter their country’s holidays in a spreadsheet and set up automated Slack messages a couple of days before every event to notify team members when it’s their turn. During the next team meeting, ask the team member from that country to share a quick five-minute overview of how they celebrate the holiday back home.
Bring your remote team together with Roots
Want to achieve true team bonding even when your team lives thousands of miles apart?
Roots makes remote work feel less remote, helping you build remote culture and keep your teams engaged and organization with plug-ins to manage Connections, 1:1s, and PTO.
Book a demo today to see roots in action.