The Knowledge Work of the Future and the Future of Knowledge Work: Creativity and Innovation in Action


Birgit Helene Jevnaker
Department of leadership and organizational behaviour, BI Norwegian Business School, 0442 Oslo
Johan Olaisen
Department of leadership and organizational behaviour, BI Norwegian Business School, 0442 Oslo


Purpose – Our paper investigates what forms the knowledge work design on a corporate level in the future.

Design and methodology – The methodology includes 20 in depth interviews with researchers working with these issues in the Swedish telecommunication company Telia and the Norwegian telecommunication company Telenor. These companies make their living from understanding the future of work on a corporate and societal level. The research is multiple evidence based and triangulated.

Findings – The main finding is that AI and robotics will be more advanced, but the main changes will be in management and organizational structure. The work will be done more as distance work and through virtual teams. The management and organization of work through the coronavirus have opened for more work done independent of time and the workplace and in virtual teams. There is also predicted a lack of professionals and all types of employees in the years to come, leading both to compete for talent and increased importance in keeping the employed knowledge workers through internal career pipelines. AI and robotics will not reduce the need for professionals and employees.

The steps will be taken one by one toward an integrated digitalization that makes new opportunities for collaboration, communication, and knowledge work. The fundamental knowledge worker will be using more of his working time on significant business issues. The skills needed are technical, information management, knowledge management, project management, collaboration, communication, rhetoric, virtual team, creativity, and green problem-solving skills. There is a corporate need for ethical, cultural, and sexual awareness. We may summarize the requirements as creative, sustainable, social, and perception manipulation intelligence. The knowledge of the future will be complex, and the knowledge worker will handle multiple skills in different situations. The future work will be dominated by increasingly autonomous workers co-opting automated digital systems to create and capture value.

Discussion – The environmental issues and the climate crisis will be taken very seriously in the coming years. There will be cooperation between the political and corporate economies to do whatever is possible for sustainability in all internal and external processes to work greener and more creative, and innovative. We will experience sustainability driven by green leadership through a green strategy and green business models giving green services and products, reusing as much as possible, and using as few resources as possible to reduce CO2. The number of bullshit jobs will however increase and the value and content of work itself will be questionable for a new work generation.

December 18, 2023
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