In Culture

The COVID pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work together.

More people are working from home, often with children and pets in the background. (In my case, my colleagues get treated to the dulcet tones of 7th grade clarinet practice every other day.)

We see our coworkers faces and hear their voices less often.

We rely on meetings on Zoom or Google hangouts to connect, but anyone can tell you that connecting is pretty hard on video chat.

As a result, so many of our customers tell us that they’re scrambling to find ways to connect people remotely. Folks are desperate for an outlet to express and receive connection, empathy, generosity, trust, and gratitude.

The desire for remote team-building exercises is skyrocketing.

No longer can we take the team bowling or to a ropes course. We can’t meet up for drinks or a baseball game. At my last company, the all-time favorite was Whirly Ball, which at least provides a little physical distance (except at the bar).

I’ve heard of some teams doing remote scavenger hunts where people are sent to find common items in their houses.

I read about one company that sent all their employees a tea light, a graham cracker square, a Hershey bar, a mini marshmallow, and a toothpick. They all got on Zoom together and made s’mores.

tiny campfire

image source:

All of those things sound fun, and like a nice distraction from work and current events. And we clearly all need a distraction!

But we can do more than just distract and have fun. Above all, and especially this winter, when our national holidays turn to gratitude and people are forced to stay indoors, we can do team-building that has a real impact!

A remote team-building exercise should build trust, connection, gratitude, and generosity!

There’s a remote team-building exercise called the Reciprocity Ring that’s been done in huge enterprises, small companies, colleges and universities, and all kinds of community groups for over 20 years.

In fact, 17 of the 20 top business schools in the U.S. use it. Companies like Google, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Facebook, and Dow have also used it. The Reciprocity Ring has been featured on Good Morning America, the HBR IdeaCastPsychology TodayHarvard Business Review, and Forbes.

The Reciprocity Ring is a different kind of remote team-building exercise. It brings people together to exchange help, advice, knowledge, resources, and information. Everyone in the group asks for something. And everyone in the group offers help to someone else.

It’s fun, but it’s also meaningful.

It sounds so simple, but it is transformative.

Employees need to learn it’s safe to ask for help at work.

There’s an epidemic of people refusing to ask for help at work, even when they need it. People will spend hours looking for information that someone else could easily give them in order to look self-sufficient.

This tendency is especially true for marginalized communities who understandably feel they can’t ever show any vulnerability in the work place.

The Reciprocity Ring was developed over the course of months by social scientists and organizational psychologists. The creators very intentionally designed it to make people feel safe asking for help. Its design makes it easier for shy or independent people to reach out and ask the group for help. It’s amazing to watch the transformation that happens when someone realizes just how willing people are to help, and how much knowledge exists in their network.

People who never ask for help learn it’s safe and even beneficial to do so.

We need to make it easy for employees to help each other!

Helping other people feels good. There’s even a term called the “helper’s high.” However, too often, the same few people do all the helping. Additionally, sometimes helping others keeps them from doing their own jobs. The Reciprocity Ring shows participants how easy and uplifting it is to help colleagues. Usually, it can even be done as a five-minute favor.

Research shows that doing the Reciprocity Ring activity actually changes behavior. “Takers” become more generous during the course of the exercise.

virtual reciprocity ring

How the Reciprocity Ring Works as a Remote Team-Building Activity

The virtual Reciprocity Ring has all the same features and functionality of an in-person Reciprocity Ring. However, you can do a Reciprocity Ring with a remote group of students, employees or members. You can lead a group of any size, though we recommend at least 20. We’ve also facilitated this exercise for thousands of people at once!

We train you (or you can pay us to facilitate it, but it’s really not necessary!) to lead the exercise with a short presentation. Our staff sends all the materials. We have short videos that your helpers can watch. 

The magic all happens with the assistance of video conferencing and our Givitas platform, which stores requests and offers and makes them visible to all the remote participants. 

People who have participated in Reciprocity Rings say it’s the most rewarding and transformative group exercise they’ve ever seen. 

Participnts exchange all kinds of requests and offers:

  • Strategic (“does anyone have a recommendation for a good digital marketing firm?”) 
  • Tactical (“can anyone help me figure out how to use Trello?”)
  • Personal (“does anyone have a reliable babysitter who can drive?”) 
  • Lucrative (“do you know anyone who might be interested in investing in my startup?”)
  • Bucket-list-fulfilling (“does anyone know someone who can help me see a Bengal tiger in the wild?”)

It’s truly a remarkable exercise. 

The results are not just hypothetical. It turns out a remote team-building exercise can actually save you money.

When people ask for help at work, their efficiency improves. So while they’re connecting with each other and improving relationships, it’s also good for the business.

  • The monetary values of benefits achieved typically exceeds $150,000
  • The time saved by participants typically exceeds 1,600 hours.
  • The Reciprocity Ring builds community, strengthening the network of relationships among participants.
  • You can achieve real business and educational benefits.

So if you have an event coming up or you’re looking for an exercise to teach your students generosity, consider a Virtual Reciprocity Ring. 

And if you’d like to achieve all these same goals all year round, consider Givitas. Givitas is a software platform that applies the Reciprocity Ring concepts all the time, rather than in a one-time exercise.

To learn more about how the Virtual Reciprocity Ring works, download the solution sheet or send an email to We’ll send pricing and details.

Learn More about the Virtual Reciprocity Ring



Traditionally done face to face, we’ve adapted the Reciprocity Ring as a virtual exercise, and people love it!

“The virtual Reciprocity Ring humaized the students to one another. Given the number of nationalities, skin tones, and accents in this class, strengthening these connections is huge. The students now see each other as supporting their mutual success and having valuable knowledge to share.” ~Richard Wilkinson, University of Washington, Tacoma

“The virtual Reciprocity Ring makes it even easier and more efficient for participants to exchange help than it is in person.” ~Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA Program and Lecturer at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University  (Read about Mike’s experience here).

“The Reciprocity Ring is a revolutionary exercise in corporate give and take—a remarkable experience that changes the way we see helping, problem-solving, and social networks.” ~Adam Grant, Wharton professor, organizational psychologist, and author of Give and Take

“We include the Reciprocity Ring as an exercise in our ‘Fundamentals’ workshop within our High Performing Team program…team members are amazed at the responses they receive…” Carol S. Maskin, M.D., Vice President Product Realization/Drug Innovation & Approval

“The Reciprocity Ring sounds almost too good to be true, but I twice have had the opportunity to be part of these exercises and have been stunned not only by what people can do to help others, but by what I was able to contribute. Giving can indeed be contagious.” ~Psychology Today

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