Redefining Work


Work, also called exertion, effort, or labor, is the process of bringing something to a desired state. In the case of an individual, the process may involve physical or mental exertion; in the case of a business, it might involve creative thought and planning.

Despite what our culture suggests, working isn’t just about the job you do; it’s the experience that shapes and defines you. It teaches us discipline, wisdom, skill, and knowledge; it makes us believe things we otherwise wouldn’t; it stretches and challenges us; it can turn us cynical or snobbish or even envious of others. It also creates relationships and bonds, forming bonds with the people around us that we’ll never forget.

The word work was derived from a Latin phrase, “workem,” meaning to do or to exert force. The English phrasal verb “to work” was first used in the 12th century to mean scholarly or artistic labor, and eventually came to mean labor as a measurable commodity in the 13th century.

It is an essential part of every human activity; without it, we wouldn’t exist. That’s why redefining work is important – it offers the potential to expand value, improve productivity, and make us better at what we do, and it could transform organizations, customers, and workers.

A Definition of Work:

Work is a transfer of energy from one object to another, typically in order to make the second object move. This energy is expressed in units like newtons per meter (N/m), joules, or grams.

In some cases, the energy transferred is considered to be negative because of its impact on the object’s motion. For example, the energy of a person lifting a heavy book from ground level to over their head is deemed to be negative because the work is done under the forces of gravity. In other cases, the work can be positive because of the change in position or shape of the object as a result of the application of force.

Examples of Work:

Pushing a rigid brick wall and becoming exhausted after a long time, pushing a book off a table and falling free from it due to gravity, etc., are not considered to do any work in Physics as there is no change in the object’s position. However, when the same object is moved along a distance of 2 metres, it is deemed to do 20 J of work.

There are three things that must be present to qualify as work: a force, a displacement, and a cause. The force must be applied to the object and it must cause a displacement. Often, it is easier to see the effect of work in action. A student preparing for an exam or a young child riding a bicycle on a circular path are good examples of work that can be seen and felt.