In 1959, Peter Drucker coined the phrase “knowledge worker” in his book, The Landmarks of Tomorrow. His definition of this new term focuses primarily on the knowledge of theory and analysis, and how this way of thinking, researching and analysing could help businesses develop their offerings.
Drucker also mentioned that “knowledge workers would be the most valuable assets of a 21st-century organisation because of their high level of productivity and creativity” (CFI). So, what exactly is a knowledge worker?
What is a knowledge worker?
If you Google it, you’ll find the Dictionary definition as “a person whose job involves handling or using information”. Rather than performing tasks of a physical nature for a living, knowledge workers think to solve problems that are complex, develop new services or products, or produce findings from research in a specific format such as a report or a blog post.
The importance of knowledge workers applies mainly to the information technology industry with roles such as web designers, coders, programmers and analysts. The sheer amount of information knowledge workers in these roles need to absorb and put into practice makes their importance ever more prominent. But that’s not to say knowledge workers aren’t needed elsewhere; they can also be accountants, lawyers, scientists, pharmacists, copywriters, engineers and many more.
You may have already built your team of knowledge workers within your business. But how can you make sure you get the most out of them?
How to manage knowledge workers
In order to fulfil their roles effectively, knowledge workers need access to information, nowadays typically via the internet.
Which is why you need to be aware of your internet connectivity.
If your connectivity is poor, your knowledge workers won’t be able to access the information they need quickly. They’ll likely become demotivated and bored, which will have a negative impact on the work they produce.
Being a knowledge worker almost comes with internet requirements. As your business grows and the more knowledge workers you employ, the bigger your need for bandwidth allocation. It’s about making sure your business’ infrastructure has the capacity to bring in new knowledge workers and provide them with the tools they need to be productive and efficient.
Examples of this:
Let’s look at how “knowledge working” can be identified within different industries:
- Finance – companies within this field may employ financial analysts to decipher large databases of information, pulling out key facts and figures that are important to the business’ daily activity. This can include problem solving, generating ideas or dealing with customer queries.
- Marketing – in an agency, a senior marketing manager may develop a strategy that enables knowledge workers to deliver databases, research and written content to aid the strategy of a client. Equally in an organisation’s internal marketing team, the CEO or marketing manager may create a strategy that helps the business’ marketing goals.
- Architecture – the lead architect on a certain project may develop a blueprint for a client’s new building and needs to conduct research in order to complete it. This will include studying the safety implications, functionality and economical capacity of the building should it go ahead.
- Engineering – a team of engineers may put their knowledge working into practice with solar power. They might design cells for solar panels that are needed for a local housing development.
- Telecommunications – the compliance team at a telecommunications organisation may create a new audit trail for their customers’ software installations.
The point is, every organisation must recognise the importance of knowledge workers. They should do their upmost to provide their knowledge workers with unlimited access to the internet, so they can research and absorb information in order to be productive and efficient.