Work, as the name suggests, is the act of creating something that adds value. Whether that value is physical, mental, social, or emotional, it can be found in the tasks we perform every day. The value created by an activity is a key part of what motivates us to do it. For example, we work to provide food and shelter for our families, to teach our children, and to care for our elderly parents. We also work to create products and services that benefit our communities and global society at large.
A large number of jobs can be performed from home, and the work-from-home trend is expected to continue growing in popularity. Some experts worry that this could make it harder for people to maintain a healthy work-life balance, but others say the benefits outweigh the challenges.
The definition of work in physics includes three quantities: the force applied to an object, the displacement the object moves through, and the angle between the force and the displacement. A simple calculation shows that work is the scalar product of these quantities. The SI unit of work is the joule, the same unit as for energy.
In the workplace, work can be defined as the amount of energy a worker exerts to produce a given outcome, or as the effort it takes to overcome resistance to achieving an outcome. The concept of work is central to the idea of job satisfaction, which in turn is a key component of organizational performance.
One of the biggest challenges when working from home is separating professional and personal tasks. For many people, that means establishing a dedicated workspace where it’s easy to keep work and leisure separate. It’s also important to determine your best times to work and plan accordingly. If you’re not a morning person, avoid scheduling conference calls during that time.
Many people who work from home find that they get more done during certain hours, and they can use that information to plan their schedules better. For instance, if you’re an extrovert who thrives on impromptu collaboration with coworkers, consider planning your workday around meetings that you can attend in-person.
Changing the future of work should involve engaging employees in a continuous cycle of creative opportunity identification and problem-solving. This work should be a larger portion of an employee’s workload than routine execution, and it should be focused on the “unseen”—the unidentified problems or opportunities that might otherwise go undetected. The result will be that the overall work experience will be more satisfying and productive, ensuring greater long-term success for both employers and employees. If you want to read more about the future of work, click on any of the titles below. Then, click “See Answer” to see the full article. This content is from the MIT Sloan Management Review, which is published by MIT Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or used in any way without the written permission of MIT Press.