What Is Work?

In physics, work refers to the action of a force on an object causing it to move (or displacement). This movement transmits energy from the force to the object. The amount of work is expressed in units called joules and kilocalories. The more an object moves, the more energy it has. If the applied force is opposite to an object’s motion, it does negative work, removing energy from the object.

When an object does positive work, it increases its own energy. An example is a waiter lifting a heavy tray high over his head. Similarly, pushing a car up a hill is considered work since it pushes the car’s weight against gravity and moves it upward.

While the world of work is changing rapidly, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about it. Some people believe that working from home is a cure-all for all workplace woes, while others fear that it will cause them to lose their professional skills. The truth is that the future of work isn’t about switching to a remote job, but rather redefining what it means to be a worker.

Redefining work requires cultivating and drawing on intrinsic human capabilities such as curiosity, imagination, creativity, intuition, empathy, and social intelligence. It also requires rethinking organizational structures, management systems, and even leadership and talent development.

Some tasks require a great deal of effort and exertion while others don’t. For instance, a person trying to lift an extremely heavy object without a power assist device is doing a great deal of work, but if he or she is simply sitting down to relax on the couch, that doesn’t count as work in the scientific sense.

Moreover, if an object is dropped off a tall building and hits the ground with force, that’s considered positive work in physics, but if a person simply pushes against a wall repeatedly to exhaust himself, it doesn’t qualify as work because it does not cause a displacement of the wall.

The reason why different types of work can drain the brain is because they use different parts of the brain, and too much switching between them is mentally taxing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to try to focus on one thing at a time when possible. If you’re struggling with this, you can try time blocking – creating a span of time, such as 15 minutes or an hour, to dictate how long you’ll spend on specific tasks – or batching, where you group similar tasks together and do them all at once. You could also hire a babysitter or ask family members to not disturb you during your work hours.