20 Non-Cheesy Five-Minute Virtual Team Building Activities
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1. Teams that get along well are crucial to the success of any organization.
2. Team building in remote environments can be more challenging than in-person.
3. Remote workers are more prone to loneliness and disengagement.
4. Remote team building can be fast and fun with the right tools and approach.
Every remote manager knows how important it is to find the right team-building activities for their team, as remote team building comes with unique challenges. Remote teams are dispersed across locations and time zones, often lacking the casual interactions that unite teams who share a physical workspace. Moreover, remote teams may struggle more with loneliness and isolation, which puts team spirit and well-being in managers’ focus.
Many managers will schedule long team-building exercises and virtual happy hours to try and unite their teams. But these long meetings are often inconvenient because they get in the way of finishing work and require remote workers to meet outside of working hours. Also, most of them are painfully cheesy.
You don’t need to schedule full hour-long Zoom meetings for effective remote team bonding. The fun games and activities below can fit at the beginning or end of regular team meetings or even as ongoing Slack conversations.
Keep reading for 20 unique activities to help your team:
- Break the ice
- Bond and build trust
- Enhance their problem-solving skills
- Get their creative gears working
- Boost morale
- Increase engagement
- Build a healthier work environment and company culture
Virtual team-building activities for new teams
New teams can feel a bit awkward in the beginning. Ice-breaker games and group activities can help your team feel more comfortable from their very first team meeting.
Here are four quick team-building activities to get past the awkward phase of guess-who and start building the foundations 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 conference and ask specific questions about their background. Make sure the questions stay fun and light and that everyone is comfortable participating.
Some icebreaker questions to ask:
- 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 notable accomplishment you remember from middle school?
Seman Drawkcab (“Backward Names,” spelled backward) is a simple way for new remote employees to learn one another’s names. You can play the game, even with large groups of people, in 5-10 minutes.
- 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 are facts 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.
- At the beginning of your meeting, 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
Virtual 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.
- Give your team a word and ask them to say (or write) the first thing that comes to mind
- Continue associating based on the previous word
- After a few rounds, compare responses to see each person’s association journey
Object Memory is a five-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 five minutes. It may take longer for larger groups.
- 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 into 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 game’s primary goal 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 in groups of fewer than five people.
- Select one remote 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
- In 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 you can play in Slack or over video calls. Regardless of the group size, it will only take 5-10 minutes.
The basic rule is simple: one of the team members is the Farmer, and the others are the Villagers. The Farmer has “a dog, rice, and chicken problem”, and the Villagers have to find a solution.
The Farmer’s problem:
- The Farmer needs 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 the boat
- If they leave the dog alone with the chicken, the dog will eat the chicken
- If they leave the chicken alone with the rice, the chicken will eat the rice
- How can the farmer safely get all three items on the other side of the river?
- First the farmer should carry the chicken, leaving the dog and the bag of rice behind
- Next they should go back and carry and pick up the rice
- Once the rice is safely on the across the river, they should carry the chicken back to the starting point
- Then they should leave the chicken at the starting point and pick up the dog
- Once the dog is across the river, with the bag of rice, the farmer will simply need to go back one last time to take the chicken across the river
If you enjoy Dog, Rice, and Chicken, check out this collection of similar riddles.
Ongoing virtual team-building ideas
Some team games can be played one time, 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 beneficial for full-remote and hybrid teams where people from different departments might not interact with each other much.
You can use Connections (by Deel) 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.
- 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.
- Once all words have been guessed, select a new main player
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 meeting ideas. It can be played by 5-10 people, and it’s a fun way to incorporate the unique “work from home” vibe into your team games.
- During any of your meetings throughout the workday, if someone in your team shouts “Slippers,” everyone has to move their camera to their feet, showing what they are wearing
- Make sure people are aware of this activity before you kick off the game!
The Jukebox is an excellent game for teams of all sizes. The facilitator creates a Spotify playlist each month, following a theme. They ask the team members to add a song to the playlist that fits the theme.
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
- Summer vibes
- Halloween jump scares
Create a playlist with a new theme every week or every two weeks to make this a recurrent team activity.
Virtual team-building games for large groups
Larger groups and teams will require quicker and more simple games and activities if the goal is to keep them short and fun. Below is a selection of activities we find very effective for big teams.
Virtual scavenger hunts
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 as virtual activities too, and many versions are available—including five-minute ones.
Create a list of items people typically 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 five-minute team-building activity people get a kick out of. Ask team members to find a meme representing the company, the day, or the project they are working on.
You can discuss the memes in meetings (allowing no more than five minutes for each description). Alternatively, ask everyone to post their memes in a Slack channel and have the rest of the company vote for the best one. It works with emojis too!
This or That
This or That helps people spark discussion and get to know each other better. You can play it with a group of any size, via video chat or in your preferred chat tool. 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 few minutes.
Connections is a great tool to help you automate and schedule your questions!
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 allowing people 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. During the next team meeting, ask the team member who added the holiday to share a quick overview of how they celebrate it back home.
Self-managed remote team-building activities
Some activities don’t need to be part of a meeting, conference call, or team-building event to effectively strengthen your team’s cohesion and engagement. Enabling employees to participate in their own activities and interact with their team members in the ways they see fit is an equally powerful tool for remote teams to bond.
While these activities aren’t strictly five-minute ones, they don’t need much time allocated either and can be easily adapted to fit any schedule.
Virtual book club
This is a rapport-building classic. Readers in your team can interact during virtual meetings, in their own Slack channel, or even asynchronously via email to suggest, discuss, review and discover books they love.
Similar interest groups can be started for any other topic, not just books. You might have musicians, gamers, amateur cooks, or arts and crafts experts in your organization. Give them a place to discuss what they love.
A lot of face-to-face bonding happens at the water cooler or by the coffee machine. You can maintain the benefits of these relaxed moments of interaction by having quick virtual coffee calls, where people from different teams or departments can have a chance to quickly get to know different members of the organization.
While gaming might not be for everyone, there are many online game options for all skill levels and preferences. From Pictionary to pool, to virtual escape rooms, to murder mysteries, to the latest viral success, online bonding options through gaming are truly limitless.
Letting employees wind down while playing something fun and interactive can be a great way to build connections and re-energize the team (and remember to have a company leaderboard!).
Show and Tell
Sometimes, simple ideas are the most effective, and this one is straight from primary school. Have a member of the team show and talk about something they are passionate about or interested in.
You can allocate just a few minutes per person, so the whole team gets a go, or ask one team member to present each week or month.
Don’t forget a good virtual office party
While most of our suggestions here are about short and easy activities that can be sprinkled into daily video conferencing and meetings, don’t forget that a good virtual event can work wonders. From virtual trivia to karaoke and game show activities, it’s never a bad idea to dedicate an hour to a good party.
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