What Is Work?

The word work is an important part of our vocabulary because it is a vital concept in several fields and aspects of our lives. In physics, work is the amount of energy transferred from one object to another via a force and its displacement. In the most basic form, work is a product of force and distance and it can be measured using units such as joules (Newton-metres). Work is also used to describe other types of activity that require effort and are accomplished through a combination of force and time, including tasks such as pushing a cart down an aisle, lifting a weight over your head or running a race.

In human terms, work is the act of fulfilling a role or task in a way that creates meaning and fulfillment. In business, it is a way to contribute value and help others meet their needs and aspirations. Redefining work is not about transferring tasks to robots or reskilling people for new jobs; it is about cultivating and drawing on intrinsic human capabilities to undertake the right kinds of work in ways that unlock more potential value creation over time.

Redefining work means that the unseen work — solving nonroutine problems and seeking fresh opportunities — becomes a larger and more expanding portion of the workload rather than a small slice in a traditional pie. It involves imagining solutions that don’t exist for needs that haven’t yet emerged, and it requires tapping into the inherent human potential of frontline workers to tackle more meaningful challenges in ways that ignite passion and growth over time.

It is possible to do work even when the object does not move, but for an activity to qualify as work it must have three key components – force, displacement and cause. Examples of this might include a person exerting a force against a wall and becoming exhausted or a ball falling from the sky onto a ground.

The direction of the force and the direction of the displacement are important for defining whether an activity qualifies as work. If the force is aligned with the direction of the displacement, then the activity will increase the energy in the system resulting in positive work done. However, if the force is perpendicular to the motion of the object, then the activity will do no work at all.

A more detailed definition of work is provided by the equation W = F D, where F is the force and the displacement is the change in distance from the point of application of the force to the point of contact with the body. This expression is used in a variety of scientific and technical fields, including mechanical engineering, fluid mechanics and electrical engineering. It is also the basis for a number of physical laws, including the law of conservation of linear momentum and the law of inertia. In the context of the energy theory, work is a measurement unit of energy and is expressed in SI units such as the joule and in non-SI units such as the newton-metre and the erg.