This article explores the nature of sociotechnical work in safety-critical operations as it unfolds in settings that are characterised by multidisciplinary interpretative work in high-tech environments, where direct access to the phenomena of interest is restricted and the dependence on sensor data and model support is high. The type of work that is described in the article—labelled ‘Integrated Operations’ in the petroleum industry—has some characteristic features that it shares with many other work settings which are becoming increasingly typical for managing complicated, sociotechnical work in our times. Sensework denotes a type of sociotechnical work in safety-critical operations where groups of professionals try to put together pieces of information to create a coherent picture to give meaning to familiar and unfamiliar situations. Although related to, sensework should not be confused with sensemaking; sensework is described as both something more and something less than sensemaking. Sensework is described as unfolding along three axes: a cognitive axis, a strategic axis and an organisational axis. Furthermore, through its fluctuation along these axes, sensework points towards two different views of work: work as imagined and work as done. Epistemologically, these dimensions may be understood as rationalist and constructivist dimensions of safe operations. Future research on sensework will hopefully challenge and develop both the empirical scope and the conceptual descriptions in this paper. The delimitation to safety-critical work in this article and the way in which sensework is conceptualised should not be seen as categorical constraints; these are starting points, not end points.