Pods – also known as self-directed work teams – have been around for more than 20 years. Pods are 30% to 50% more effective than their traditional counterparts. A survey of senior line managers offers some of the benefits derived from implementing self-directed teams:


Improved quality, productivity and service.

Greater flexibility.

Reduced operating costs.

Faster response to technological change.

Fewer, simpler job classifications.

Better response to workers’ values.

Increased employee commitment to the organization.

Ability to attract and retain the best people.


So if it’s such a great idea to go podular, why aren’t more companies doing it?


Podular design is a concept that focuses on modularizing work: making units more independent, adaptive, linkable, and swappable. But the environment that surrounds the pods is equally critical to the success or failure of a podular system. Modular components are a critical element of a connected company. But to take advantage of pods you also need a business that is designed to support them.


The future is podular.

  • Nancy White 4y

    Dave, what has the impact of so much of our work and interactions going online had on the value of physical proximity of pods? How does it reframe some of the environment issues (such as being able to hear a VoIP conversation in headsets w/ ambient noise when otherwise that "noise" is conversation with colocated coworkers)? Are there any differences now?
  • Dave Gray 4y

    Hi Nancy!

    It seems to me that the social technologies have extended our reach -- so more connections are possible. However our attention is still the scarce resource. So the paradox is that we have more potential connections and at the same time less attention to devote to them. It takes more attention and effort to maintain strong ties over distance.

    I think the net effect is that we have the same number of strong ties that we always have had, although more of those relationships might be over great distances and we might spend a bit more time on them. But the number of weak ties has skyrocketed and that attention seems to be splintering and spreading across a wider network.

    What are your thoughts?

    Do you do a lot of remote work and spend more time maintaining your "strong-tie" relationships via social technologies than you used to?

    Has your pool of weak-tie relationships expanded dramatically?

    That's been my experience.
  • Nancy White 4y

    Nodding... yup. In my experience w/ pods in the past, our engagement with those in physical proximity was primary. Now it may not be, making the attention thing more of a challenge. A greater tension.

    My network has gone beyond my cognitive ability to interact with it. I'm struggling to maintain those strong core relationships and the wider, looser ones. And yes, I do a LOT of remote work so most of my strong ties are not geographically colocated. I'm trying to find how to swim in these waters. I think it is easy to forget the impact of the physical impact of our workspaces, but I think some of the older design principles need to be tweaked. So when I saw your sketch, you triggered that question again. :-)

    That said, I work alone. So my pod mates are simply the sides of my own fractured attention!
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