Work is the transfer of energy from one object to another. It can be physical, mental, mechanical, or intellectual, and involves significant exertion. It can also be remunerative or purposeful. Other words for work are occupation, calling, and pursuit. Occupation indicates a routine or regular activity; calling, on the other hand, means a vocation or a steady interest.
Work is essential for our society. It enhances our sense of usefulness, provides financial means, and serves as a socialising mechanism. It also provides an identity. It is a central feature of our societies and a key factor in the social integration of vulnerable groups. Work integration programmes are designed to help these groups achieve a better quality of life.
Human work habits have evolved throughout history. For example, hunter-gatherer societies vary in the intensity of work based on seasonal availability of plants and periodic migrations of prey animals. With the development of agriculture, work practices became more sustained. However, they still fluctuated depending on the seasons, with intensive sustained efforts during harvests alternated with shorter, less intense periods during winter.
Work is a social and cultural institution in society, and workers differ in their roles and power. In some societies, the power structure is based on hierarchy, where people have varying degrees of power. Lower-class members are generally stigmatized and often forced to do the most undesirable work. In contrast, the wealthy and powerful have access to more prestigious positions, symbolic sinecures, and a leisure life.
People look for meaning and purpose in their work, and this needs to be reflected in the workplace. Aligning work values with talent and values will help an organization retain and improve employee engagement. Additionally, aligning work values with the workplace culture will reduce turnover and keep employees for longer periods of time. And as a result, organizations will save millions of dollars in productivity.
People involved in more than one form of work may be classified as self-employed. For instance, a self-employed person may grow vegetables on their own, while an unpaid intern might be building furniture or sewing clothing. Likewise, a volunteer may build their own clothes or donate time to an organisation. These forms of work are not only different types of work, but they are also different forms of labour.
Another factor contributing to a high volume of work is complexity. Many complex projects have high workloads that require more than one person to complete. In such cases, it may be beneficial to break a large complex project into smaller parts and work on work processes for each part of it. Then, the team can focus on the more manageable pieces and refine their processes.