What Is Work?


Work, or the transformation of energy into another form (as by a push or pull), is a basic concept in physics. There are three quantities that must be known in order to determine the amount of work done: the force exerted, the displacement travelled, and the angle between the force and the displacement. In general, the more of these three that are equal to or greater than zero, the more work is done. The SI unit for work is the joule.

There are many benefits of working, including a source of income, providing the ability to pay for goods and services that would otherwise be unavailable, and job satisfaction. In addition, a person’s sense of self-worth can often be linked to their career status, and it is therefore important to find a satisfying one.

In everyday circumstances, there are a number of things that we think of as work that are not in fact work in the scientific sense. For example, a batsman hitting a ball, a cyclist paddling a bicycle, or a traveller pushing their luggage through the airport are all examples of work. However, a person holding their hand up against a wall to stop it from falling, does not do any work because there is no displacement of the hand and the direction of the force is not perpendicular to the distance moved (up).

The word “work” derives from the Old English wyran, with cognates in other West Germanic languages including Low German warken and Dutch werken. The verb is also a core component of the English language, with derivatives including “to work hard,” “to get to work,” and “to have the works.”

A common definition of work is the transformation of energy into an object’s motion. In physics, this is defined as the product of the force exerted on an object and the magnitude of the displacement. This is sometimes expressed in joules, but other units can be used.

In general, for an action to be classified as doing work in physics, it must transfer some kind of energy. This energy is then available for use in the object’s next motion. This is why a person can be exhausted after working hard, as they have expended some of their own energy in the process.

The term “work” is sometimes misused to refer to any action that is not fun or relaxing, which can lead to a feeling of burnout and mental health issues. However, there are certain ways that people can avoid this by changing their work practices or environment.

There are some fundamental changes that could be made to the way in which we work, so that it becomes less repetitive and more engaging. In other words, it should involve more creative and imaginative problem identification and solution approaches, rather than simply a method of moving an established process from a “before” state to an “after” state, with no ongoing change. This type of approach can be applied to any sort of process, including human labor processes.