Supporting distributed knowledge work in a knowledge intensive organisation

Research output: Book/ReportReport


The purpose of this case study was to explore the aspects of distributed work and its challenges from the knowledge worker perspective, and discover how an organisation can better support employees working in a distributed work environment. The focus is on the phenomenon of distributed knowledge work, which is examined in the case organisation VTT, Technical Research Centre of Finland. The theoretical part of the study examined distributed work in the context of knowledge workers. The theoretical review showed that the distribution of knowledge work is increasing due to the changes experienced in the working environment. This is mostly based on technological advances enabling work to be conducted anytime and anyplace. The technological developments have added distributed and mobile features in organisations in terms of employees working in and between multiple locations and collaborating across time and space in various collaboration forms. Previous studies have indicated that the distribution of work will increase more in the future. This results to new and different challenges for the employees in knowledge intensive organisations, especially relating to the re-definition of work hours. The challenges require organisations to rethink their current work practises, based on a time when work was done at a fixed place during regular work hours. Some organisations have started renewing the organising of work according to the distributed work setting by analysing the work of the knowledge workers, creating protocols for distributed work and developing the workspaces to better correspond the working style of distributed knowledge workers. The empirical part of the study was conducted using a mixed method approach, consisting of a survey study and two group interviews. The survey respondents consisted mainly of VTT researchers and the group interview participants were two research teams working in distributed manners. The data were analysed with statistical methods and content analysis. The results of the empirical part of the study showed the distribution of knowledge work at the case organisation, and it was discovered that organisational policies and alignments have great effect in enabling the conducting of knowledge worker tasks. The study indicates that in order for knowledge intensive organisations to better support their employees in an increasingly distributed work setting, more emphasis should be put on developing the organisational policies. An organisation can support distributed knowledge work by developing realistic work hour monitoring, creating guidelines for distributed working, understanding and supporting the social aspects of work, supporting and encouraging the usage of virtual collaboration tools and acknowledging the differences in workspace requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages116
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7823-8
ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7627-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesVTT Technology


  • knowledge workers
  • distributed work
  • challenges of distributed and mobile work
  • organisational support


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