Virtual meetings are a standard event during every remote employee’s work day. They help facilitate conversations and exchange information, but the over-reliance on unengaging, back-to-back meetings can also lead to feelings of fatigue, isolation, and disconnection among team members.
In 2022, 24% of remote workers struggled with loneliness.
To combat these feelings, remote leaders need to prioritize fostering a sense of community within their organization so employees can feel seen, heard, and known. This is where team building games and icebreakers can assist.
By kicking off a call with a 5-minute game for virtual meetings, you can help break the ice, re-energize your team, and create a relaxed atmosphere where conversation can flow. This allows team members to get to know each other on a personal level and form a connection.
Team building activities also serve as a way to build trust, increase collaboration, and boost team morale. By participating in fun and interactive games, team members are able to work together, share their ideas, and build camaraderie. This helps to foster a positive and supportive work environment, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
Try these 5-minute games for virtual meetings to build a more connected team:
- Something in Common
- Virtual Background Show & Tell
- Pictionary Story
- Scavenger Hunt
- Totally Random Slideshow
- Trust, Deep
- 5-Minute Yoga
- Low Stakes Debate
- Bucket List Mix Up
- Gather Grand Prix
1. Something in Common
Identify unique similarities with each other. Best for bringing your team together.
This 5-minute game is all about discovering new qualities that you have in common with your colleagues. The goal is to identify the most unique experience that you share with your partner or group, so encourage everyone to go deeper than “What’s your favorite color?”
You’ll form richer connections (and probably laugh more!) when everyone opens up to share their weird quirks, embarrassing moments, or favorite memories.
How to Play
- Split your meeting attendees into groups of 2-4.
- Tell each group they have 4 minutes to find the most unique thing they have in common with everyone else in their group.
- Once the 4 minutes have gone by, bring everyone back together.
- Have 1 person from each group share their “Something in Common.”
- The group with the most unique answer wins! (Although the real prize is the new connections your team will form with each other.)
Note: Depending on the video conferencing software you use, you may need to split into breakout rooms or move into private conversations around your virtual office so each group can brainstorm their “Something in Common” on their own.
- Weirdest hobby you had as a kid
- Thrilling experiences (like skydiving, ziplining, etc.)
- Favorite concert you’ve ever been to
- High school clubs or sports you were involved in
- Most unique pet you’ve ever owned
2. Virtual Background Show & Tell
Learn more about your whole team. Best for engaging large groups.
This team activity is an easy way to involve your whole team in a short game while also learning more about each other.
The host will ask the group a question, and instead of answering verbally, everyone will reveal their answer by changing their video background to a picture.
After everyone has updated their background, the conversation flows naturally – we guarantee you’ll need to ask some follow-up questions or dig into the backstory behind some of the pictures!
How to Play
- Make sure your meeting software gives you the option to change your background, and that your team knows how to do this. (Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Gather all offer this feature.)
- The host asks an icebreaker question to the group.
- Everyone has 30 seconds to download a photo or take a screenshot that answers the question.
- Upload the photo into your background options in your meeting software.
- Turn on the new background to reveal your answer.
- Give everyone 30 seconds to look at all the backgrounds. Encourage everyone to unmute to ask follow-up questions, make observations, or just laugh together!
- Repeat as many times as you want before you start your formal meeting agenda.
- Least favorite city you’ve ever been to?
- If you were an Instagram influencer, what product would you promote?
- If you could be any exotic animal, what would you choose?
- If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- What do you think aliens look like?
3. Pictionary Story
Flex your team’s creativity. Best for kicking off a brainstorming session.
Pictionary has become a common game for remote teams thanks to the wide variety of whiteboard apps and shared drawing tools. To put a twist on this classic 5-minute game, turn your team’s drawings into a collaborative illustrated story.
After the first person draws their object and everyone correctly guesses what it is, leave it on the whiteboard. The second person to draw must add to the scene in a way that contextually makes sense. Not only is it a fun exercise in creativity, but it’ll also help your team practice building on each other’s ideas – the perfect activity right before a virtual brainstorm!
How to Play
- You’ll need a virtual whiteboard where your team can draw and make shapes together. Your meeting software might include this, or you could use a tool like Miro or FigJam.
- Select someone to draw first.
- You can either let them choose what to draw to start the scene or provide them a prompt to follow.
- Once they’ve completed their drawing, have the team guess what it is.
- Once you’ve correctly identified the scene, pass the virtual marker to the next person.
- Repeat steps 3-5 until each person in your meeting has had a chance to draw at least once.
- By the end, you’ll have a whole illustrated story crafted by the teamwork of your meeting attendees.
Ideas for What to Draw
- Give each person the choice of adding an Object, Person, or Place to the scene (or alternate between these three types).
- Have each person use a random word generator. Whatever word it generates, they have to find a way to add it to the scene.
- Pair this activity with icebreaker questions. For example, you could ask the drawer “What’s your favorite snack food?” and then they have to draw the answer into the scene.
4. Scavenger Hunt
Get your team up and moving. Best for days with back-to-back meetings.
Just because you’re about to start a virtual meeting doesn’t mean your game has to entirely take place in front of the screen.
To encourage everyone to get up and move around, play a quick 5-minute scavenger hunt where each person retrieves objects from throughout their house. Not only can you learn more about your coworkers based on the items they retrieve, but you’ll help everyone step away from the screen for a few minutes. A true gift on days with lots of meetings.
How to play
- Before your meeting begins, prepare a list of 1-3 objects you want your team to go find throughout their house.
- When the meeting starts, present the scavenger hunt list.
- Start a timer for 3 minutes to allow everyone time to move around their house and retrieve their items.
- Use the last 2 minutes for show and tell. Take turns presenting the objects retrieved and asking follow-up questions.
Example Items to Find
- The oldest piece of technology you own
- A book you own but have never read
- A very tiny object
- Something from your garden or yard
- The best snack food in your house right now
5. Totally Random Presentation
Discover what your team is passionate about. Best for helping the team with public speaking.
The idea is simple: One person prepares a slideshow about anything they want. (As long as it’s work appropriate, of course.) They talk through their slides - and that’s it!
You’re sure to uncover some new knowledge about your coworkers while also encouraging them to practice their public speaking skills.
This game works especially well for recurring meetings like a weekly team standup, where you can assign one person to present each week. (Otherwise, you might need more than 5 minutes for everyone to present during the same day.)
How to Play
- Assign who’s in charge of the Totally Random Presentation. If possible, give one week’s notice so they have time to prepare their slides.
- You can either let the presentation be truly “Totally Random” or you can provide a prompt to give the content a little structure.
- Encourage them to make the presentation about 4 minutes long with 1 minute at the end for questions.
- When the meeting starts, let the presenter share what they’ve prepared.
- End with follow-up questions and conversation from the team.
Example Presentation Prompts
- Fully explain your favorite conspiracy theory
- Rank the furniture in your house from most comfortable to least
- If everyone on the team were a Disney character, who would they be and why?
- 5 things on Amazon everyone on the team should buy right now
- Compare our company competitors to house plants
6. Embarrassing Story Swap
Dig deep with your team. Best for building trust with each other.
It may sound counterintuitive, but research shows that embarrassment leads to more (and more diverse!) ideas. Matt Mochary, a career coach for CEOs, also promotes the practice of sharing shameful moments to build a sense of deep trust within your team.
By encouraging your team to open up about their flaws and awkward moments, you’ll help take the pressure off the meeting to follow. People will be more likely to speak up and share ideas, knowing that the rest of their teammates have all experienced moments of embarrassment.
How to Play
- Before the meeting, let your team know you’ll be sharing embarrassing stories. (It’ll help everyone be more vulnerable if they have a heads up.)
- As the meeting leader, share your story first. Again, this will help everyone feel more comfortable with the exercise.
- Continue around the group until everyone has had a chance to share a story.
- Take time to laugh and empathize with each person’s story. The goal isn’t to embarrass anyone further, but rather embrace that you’ve all had these moments!
Example Prompts: Tell the group about a time when:
- You called someone by the wrong name
- A conversation was overheard by the wrong person
- Your forgot your wallet/purse
- Something embarrassing happened on social media
- You made an error at work
7. 5-Minute Yoga
Encourage everyone to stand up and stretch. Best for stressful/busy days.
Yoga can help relieve stress, increase energy, and improve focus. If you’re looking for a 5-minute activity that will restore the team’s energy, don’t overcomplicate it – a quick virtual yoga session can be just what the team needs.
If anyone on your team happens to be a yoga professional or enthusiast, they may be interested in leading this practice. If not, you can screen share a Youtube video for everyone to follow along.
- Let the team know you’ll be starting the meeting with a very light yoga session. While it won’t be strenuous, they may want to move their chair or refill their water.
- Screenshare a short yoga video or have a teammate lead the session.
- Follow along! And remind everyone: The primary goal is to take a deep breath and stretch together. (No one will judge actual yoga ability during this session.)
5-minute yoga videos you can use
- Yoga at Your Desk (6:24)
- 5-Minute Break - Office Yoga (6:05)
- 5-Minute Seated Stretch (5:29)
- Quick and Easy Stretches to do while Sitting at your Desk (5:19)
- 5-Minute Office Stretch (5:52)
8. Low Stakes Debate
Takes sides on an issue that has no relevance to work. Best for getting the team laughing.
In a healthy work environment, everyone should feel comfortable speaking their mind, even if they disagree with someone. A fun way to practice these hard conversations is with a Low Stakes Debate.
In other words, a debate that has absolutely nothing to do with anything work related. It’s an exercise in critical thinking and logical arguing without the risk of real-world consequences.
How to Play
- Before the meeting begins, choose a topic for the debate and present the prompt to the team.
- Get two volunteers to argue for each side (or assign the roles – it’s fun even if you don’t personally agree with the argument you’re assigned)
- At the start of your meeting, kick off the debate with 1 minute for each person to make their case.
- After each person talks, give the rest of the meeting attendees 1 minute to ask follow-up questions.
- Take a vote on who won the debate. The only prize is bragging rights about about a very low stakes topic.
Example Debate Topics
- Debate two songs or artists, such as Photograph by Nicelback vs All Star by Smash Mouth.
- Debate what’s the best dessert. For example, Monkey Bread vs Banana Split.
- Debate the value of two Pantone colors, like Viva Magenta vs Very Peri.
- Debate made up holidays like National Pancake Day vs Squirrel Appreciation Day.
- Debate the best office utensil, such as ballpoint pens vs coffee mugs.
9. Bucket List Mix Up
Dream big together. Best for building long-lasting connections.
One of the reasons virtual meetings can feel so draining is that your team gets stuck in the details of day-to-day work. To remind everyone of the bigger picture, take 5 minutes to guess items on each other’s bucket lists.
Not only will this get your team thinking about long-term goals, but it could also help form true connections outside of work-related projects.
How to Play
- Before the meeting, ask everyone to share one bucket list item with you.
- The bucket list item could be completely random, or follow a prompt so they’re all within the same theme.
- Once you’ve collected all the answers, place them on a slide or in your agenda.
- At the start of your meeting, read off all the answers.
- Take turns guessing which answer belongs to which member of the team.
- One place you want to travel to in the next 5 years
- Your realistic dream job
- A new hobby you really want to learn
- A travel experience (like seeing the northern lights or climbing Mount Everest)
- Someone famous you’d like to meet
10. Gather Grand Prix
Race your coworkers around a digital go-kart track. Best for encouraging friendly competition.
Gather helps you create digital spaces that bring your distributed team closer together. Sometimes that space is a virtual office where you can run into each other in the hallway, stop by a coworker’s desk, and hold productive conversations.
Other times, that space is a digital go kart track where you can race your coworkers. Because what better way is there to bond than a little friendly competition?!
How to Play
- Before your meeting, create a free Gather account.
- Choose “Team Social” – this will bring you to a virtual courtyard where your team can gather outside work.
- To learn the basics of using Gather, follow this guide. (We recommend passing this on to your teammates, as well.)
- At the top of the space, you’ll see a building where you can select the Gather Grand Prix. Click “Set up room” and you’re ready to race!
- At the start of your meeting, share this URL with your team to bring them to the track.
- You’ll have three laps to claim first place. Like any good racing game, there are obstacles to avoid and speed boosters to give you a competitive edge.
These 5-minute games for virtual meetings are an easy and quick way to start building connections. You can combat feelings of isolation while also increasing team morale and productivity.
By fostering a supportive and collaborative work environment, remote teams can thrive and achieve their goals more effectively.
Make your virtual meetings more engaging
Gather gives you a digital environment that your team can move around in and talk naturally with one a nother. Whether you’re kicking off a meeting with a casual coffee chat or a 5-minute game like the Gather Grand Prix, our digital offices help distributed teams build stronger connections.