Redefining Work

Work is one of the most important parts of life for many people, especially when it provides a sense of purpose. For some, work can also provide an intellectual challenge that helps them feel more fulfilled and capable. For others, work is a way to connect with a community and provide a social outlet that can help them feel less isolated and depressed. And for some, work provides a steady stream of income that can be used to meet financial obligations and support their family.

When it comes to redefining work, the key is identifying what capabilities are needed to be successful in future roles. For example, if the goal is to get employees engaged in more creative, imaginative, and innovative problem-identification and solution approaches, then companies will need to consider how to nurture these skills within their workforces, including through training and development opportunities. This will require a major shift in the ways that businesses think about where work gets done, how it’s accomplished, and who does it. This will include reexamining management systems, work environments, operations, leadership and management capabilities, performance management and compensation systems, and human capital practices.

In physics, work is defined as the force exerted on an object that causes its movement, or displacement. Work is a vector quantity, meaning it has both magnitude and direction, but because the force acting on an object is constant in this case, it will always integrate to just the product of the force and displacement, which is a scalar quantity (also called the dot product in vector mathematics). For other cases where the force is not constant, such as when an object is accelerated by a constant acceleration, the scalar product does not exist, and we need to use another expression to determine the amount of work that was done.

Work is a type of energy, and it can be measured in SI units such as the joule, as well as in non-SI units such as the newton-metre, erg, foot-pound, and kilojoule. In some instances, particularly in chemistry and biology, work can be measured by its increase in an object’s energy, although this is usually only done for very large amounts of energy and involves complicated calculations. In these cases, the object’s velocity is often used in place of its distance, as this makes the calculation easier. However, this is not the case when calculating the work of gravity on an item, as the gravitational force acts on the object at an angle th with respect to its displacement, and therefore the work is not linear.