Chapter 6

5-Minute Team Building Activities

Check out our handy guide to the 10 best 5-minute team building activities. Super useful when you don't have a lot of time to organise.

Heather Harper

Written by Heather Harper

Last updated: Mar 30, 2020

In this chapter we'll reveal the best 5-minute or less team building activities that you can try out with your team.

When looking for team building activities, there is a lot of focus on ones that take hours to complete. However, not all team building activities have to be these long drawn-out affairs that take up a large toxic waste amount of time.

This list is for the times when you’re just looking to give everyone a quick break from work, when you want to just shake up the monotony a little. Using team building activities during these times will leave your team feeling energised; which research has found to lead to higher organisational performance.

So, sit back and enjoy this list of short, simple, yet effective, team building activities that are guaranteed to get your team working better together.

If your team is working remotely at the moment then you should check out our 7000 word guide on remote team building games and activities for virtual teams. In there you'll find 40 ideas with instructions that you can try with your newly remote team.

1) This or That

Objective: Team Bonding & Get To Know One Another

Participants: 4 to 15 people

Duration: 5 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

this or that

We love this team building activity because it gets people talking about themselves, which even if we can’t always admit it, we all secretly love to do.

This activity also allows everyone to learn more about their colleagues and their preferences for things.


To be honest with you, the rules of this game are really quite simple and don’t warrant a numbered list of instructions.

The most straightforward way to play this game is to simply go through a few rounds where everyone has to choose what they would prefer between two given options.

You can make it even more engaging by playing variations of this game, like pairing people up and having one person try to guess what the other’s preference would be before they answer.

2) Bucket list

Objective: Get everyone to share with each other what is on their bucket list

Participants: 5 to 15 people

Duration: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

bucket list

Despite sometimes feeling shy to begin with, we can all admit that we love talking about ourselves.

A simple way to get new recruits to talk about themselves is with this classic team building activity.

This activity can also give you an incredible insight into what your team's motivation and driving factors are, both at work and outside of work.


Again, the instructions are super simple.

Get each team member to express what five things are on their bucket list. Depending on their answer, this also gives you ample opportunity to provide value to them beyond your professional relationship.

For example, if you find out that one of your new client’s items on their bucket list is about travelling, then you can send them some information about a country they’re interested in visiting.

3) Show and tell

Objective: To get team members to know one another well and to focus on confidence building

Participants: 5 to 100

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

show and tell

Yes, you read that right, we’re taking this all the way back to high school.

While this might be a little cheesy and awkward at the start, this is an extraordinary team building activity that helps the presenter build their own confidence - we love this activity because research has found that increased confidence (self-efficacy) predicts individual performance and satisfaction within teams.

We all know that highly satisfied employee’s work better together and produce better organisational outcomes... so use this activity to get everyone's confidence boosted!


  1. Set aside a time, once a week, to hold a regular show and tell session.
  2. Ask two to three people to bring something in from home and tell everyone the story behind it.
  3. You can make this more interesting by giving your show and tell a theme like “Something that motivates you” or “What best represents your leadership style?”.

4) Office Pen Pals

Objective: To promote team bonding and communication skills

Participants: 6 to 120 people

Duration: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

office pen pals

We like this activity because it is simple and requires minimal involvement from yourself.

Furthermore, it has been shown countless times that the simple act of handwriting provides a number of benefits to our brain from improving our memory, sparking creativity and even fostering a more positive mindset.


Another one too simple to have numerical instructions.

Bring back the lost art of writing by assigning everyone in the office a pen pal buddy.

These ‘pen pals’ can write to each other regularly to talk about work and express any worries.

5) Word association

Objective: To enhance communication skills

Participants: 5 to 20 minutes

Duration: 5 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None


Whether you’re trying to get everyone into the right mindset of a meeting, or giving them a mental break by having them think of something random, the one-word word association game is as helpful as it is versatile.


All you need to do is give a simple prompt and ask everyone to share one word that they strongly associate with it and why.

6) Say name backwards

Objective: To promote team bonding

Participants: 4 to 15 people

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

say name backwards

It really doesn’t get any more quick and easy than this particular team building game.

This activity is particularly useful if you have a new team that is meeting for the first time and don’t really know each other yet.

Besides injecting a little humor into your standard introduction, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to remember someone else’s name if you heard it backwards first.


  1. Get everyone sat in a circle.
  2. Simply ask everyone to introduce themselves by saying their name backwards.
  3. Team members then have to guess what each other’s names actually are.

7) Card Triangles

Objective: Participants learn to see others’ perspectives before they can influence and persuade them in a negotiation activity

Participants: 6 to 16 people

Duration: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: **A small deck of playing cards, envelopes **

card triangles

We recommend using this when individuals are focusing too much on their own needs and need to work better as part of a team.

Or, this exercise is also great when team members need to develop their sales and negotiation skills, as, obviously, this leads to far better outcomes.


  1. Cut each card in half diagonally, then in half diagonally again, so each card is now in four triangle quarters.
  2. Mix all the cards well and place an equal number of pieces in the same number of envelopes as you have teams.
  3. Divide the group in teams of three of four.
  4. Give each team and envelope (that contains the card triangles).
  5. The teams have 2 minutes to examine and sort their pieces and plan their strategy for bartering (the exchanging of goods).
  6. Everyone must participate by bartering for the pieces their team needs (can barter individually or as a team).
  7. After 3 minutes, count the team’s completed cards and announce the winning team.

8) Copy Cat

Objective: To get team members to learn the importance of listening in an activity where they have to make an exact copy of a sculpture.

Participants: 4 to 8 people

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Six to seven common office items for each participant, a visual barrier to place between each pair of participant (e.g., a large binder)

copy cat

We love this because it focuses on teamwork and cooperation, which has been shown time and time again to improve organisational culture, goal attainment and job satisfaction.

We also love this activity because it encourages team members to be good listeners, which recent research finding that good listeners in teams leads to more team improvement - so make sure everyone in your team always has their ears open!


  1. Pair up your participants.
  2. Distribute a set of identical office items to each partner.
  3. Each pair should then set up a visual barrier so they cannot see their partners items.
  4. Instruct one partner of each pair to build some kind of structure, using only the items provided - they have 1 minute to do so.
  5. The other partner should try to copy the structure - they have two minutes.
  6. Both partners may freely talk, but they must not ask any questions.
  7. After the time is up, remove the barriers and view the results. Give a prize to the team whose structures look the most similar.
  8. To make the game a little longer, you can reverse roles.

9) Listen Up

Objective: To practice participants listening skills in an activity that encourages them to share their views on controversial topics

Participants: 4 to 14 people

Duration: 4 to 8 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: An identical set of 10 to 15 index cards for each team

listen up

We love this activity because, as mentioned above, good listeners promote improvements in teams.

We also love this activity because it promotes and focuses on producing open minded team members. Studies have shown, over and over again, that open mindedness in team reaps many positive outcomes, such as improved team performance and increased knowledge sharing.


  1. Write on each index card a different controversial topic.
  2. Have the participants pair up and give each pair a set of index cards.
  3. One partner draws a card and speaks for 3 minutes nonstop about their views on the topic 1. during this time, the other partner must not say anything.
  4. After 3 minutes, the partner has 1 minute to recap what they heard. They should not rebut, debate or agree - just summarise.
  5. To make the game longer, you can always have partners switch roles and repeat with a new topic.

10) Me, Myself and I

Objective: To encourage participants to realise that their communication is often self-centered in an activity that forces participants to communicate about things other than themselves

Participants: 4 to 14 people

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

me, myself and i

The last activity on our list, but still one of our favourites… We love this activity because it enhances communication and cooperation within teams.

It also encourages team members to think less about themselves, and more about others.


  1. Pair up your participants.
  2. One partner must speak for 3 minutes non stop - they must continue talking without any pauses. They can speak about any topic, but they may never use the word “I”.
  3. The listening partner must not speak at all.
  4. Get the listening partner to briefly summarise what was said.
  5. To make the game longer, you can then reverse roles and repeat.


And there you have it. Those are our favourite 5-minute team building activities.

We hope you've liked our list!

Try these out and let me know how you go.

Is there one that we've missed that should definitely be in our best of list?

Let me know in the comments below!

Heather Harper

About the author

Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specialising in organizational psychology - helping teams work better together.

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