What Is Work?


Work is a complex concept that encompasses a wide range of activities. When it comes to defining work, it’s important to consider both the traditional definition and how employees want to define their jobs. For example, while many organizations have focused on salary and hours worked in the past, it’s also important to consider what motivates people to perform their work well.

In physics, work is the transfer of energy from one object to another. It can be calculated by multiplying the force exerted on an object by the distance moved by it. Both the force and the displacement are measured in units of joule, named after 19th-century English physicist James Prescott Joule. Non-SI units for work include the newton-metre, erg, watt and foot-poundal.

The word work is used in a variety of ways, from the physical activity of digging or building to the more abstract act of working on ideas or projects. A person may also work with a particular substance, such as dough or clay, to shape it into something else. A person may also work a crowd, which could be done in the context of a politician or entertainer trying to get their audience’s attention and support.

Some people choose to do volunteer work or other unpaid labor, in order to gain valuable experience and skills that they can use in their paid employment. Regardless of the motivation, it’s important to note that any type of work can provide personal satisfaction and contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of an individual.

Redefining work means that the future of work will focus more on the “unseen” than on routine execution and compliance. This will require a shift to a mindset that fosters curiosity, imagination, creativity, intuition and empathy. It will also mean that organizations need to change their management systems, work environments, operations and leadership and talent capabilities to allow employees to pursue meaningful work that makes a difference and cultivate the capabilities that they need in order to do so.

This is a difficult shift, but it’s essential to the long-term success of businesses and economies around the world. Traditionally, work has been defined by the tasks and activities that are required to get an economy’s financial engine running. However, a growing body of research has shown that there are many other aspects of work beyond wage and hour, including the importance of meaning and purpose, professional development opportunities, social relationships and career longevity. These factors are all linked to job satisfaction, which is a key contributor to overall life satisfaction. By redefining work, it is possible to increase job satisfaction and create more fulfilling, sustainable careers for individuals and societies as a whole. By working together, we can reclaim the magic of work.