Meaning of Work

What is Work:

As work we call the set of activities that are carried out with the objective of reaching a goal, solving a problem or producing goods and services to meet human needs.

The word work comes from Latin tripaliāre, and this in turn of tripalĭum, which was a kind of yoke to lash slaves in the Roman Empire.

Over time, the use of the word expanded to refer to an activity that caused physical pain and was associated with work in the fields, but its use was extended to other human activities.

Thanks to work, the human being begins to conquer his own space, as well as the respect and consideration of others, which also contributes to his self-esteem, personal satisfaction and professional fulfillment, without counting on the contribution he makes to society.

The meaning of work has focuses in various areas, such as economics, physics, philosophy, etc.

Work in physics

In physics, work is a scalar physical quantity that is used to measure the energy necessary for the application of a force during a certain time of displacement.

This magnitude is represented by the letter W (from English work) and is expressed in units of energy known as Joules (J). It is calculated using a formula, which is the multiplication of force times displacement.

T = F. d

Work can be a positive or negative number, since for work to be positive the force must act in the direction of displacement, and for it to be negative, the force must be exerted in the opposite direction.

In this sense, the work can be divided into:

  • Null work: which is when the work is equal to zero.
  • Motor work: which is when the force and the displacement are in the same direction.
  • Resistant work: which is the opposite of motor work, that is, when the force and the displacement are in opposite directions.

See also Work in physics.

Work in economics

For the economy, work is the amount of hours that a person spends to do a productive activity, such as the generation of goods or services.

The work can be of two types:

Intellectual work

It is any activity that is the result of the inventiveness and ideas of a person and that does not require physical effort. For example, the work of an advertising creative, a writer or a scientific researcher.

Physical work

It is any productive activity that requires physical or manual skills, such as field work, construction, mechanics, etc.

Work and employment

Work and employment are not always interchangeable synonyms. Work is a task that does not necessarily give the worker an economic reward.

An example of the above is the current debate in some countries about the feasibility of paying for household work, considering that it requires the execution of multiple tasks, and that it is an activity that generates a positive impact on society.

Employment, for its part, employment is a position or position that an individual occupies in a company or institution, where their work (physical or intellectual) is duly paid.

The concept of employment, in this sense, is much more recent than that of work, since it emerged during the Industrial Revolution.

See also Employment.

Autonomous work

Self-employment or independent work is one in which an individual exercises his activity as a free professional, that is, he is not linked or subject to any company.

Generally, self-employment is carried out by people who work in commercial or business activities. It is also known by the English term freelancer.

See also Freelance.


Telework is known as that activity carried out by a person external to the facilities of the company for which it provides services.

Today, the advancement of information and communication technologies has allowed teleworking to become one of the modalities increasingly implemented by companies, since in many cases it translates into a reduction in expenses, less investment in equipment and in some cases, a simplification of processes.

See also Telecommuting.

Slave labor

Slave labor is designated as a form of forced labor that is illegal. It is a type of work that is not paid or is insufficiently paid, in which the worker is exploited, mistreated and his freedom and rights are restricted.

Slave labor is based on the old model in which people were forced to perform multiple tasks (which almost always involved the use of physical force) with little or no incentive to survive; all of this was generally done under torture and mistreatment.

Although slave labor is supposed to be prohibited worldwide, people and organizations promoting this type of illegal activity continue to be reported today, especially in economically depressed countries or areas.

See also Slave.

Child labor

Child labor is that carried out by children and adolescents who are below the legal minimum age allowed to work, according to the legislation of each country.

Despite being prohibited, child labor is still practiced in some countries where, as a consequence of poverty and scarcity, children are forced to work to survive or to help support their family.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), child labor involves:

  • That it is dangerous and that it can threaten the physical, mental or moral integrity of the minor.
  • That interferes with their schooling process, either because they are forced to leave school, or because the amount and type of work prevents them from meeting their school obligations.

Labor Day

Labor Day, also known as International Workers' Day, is a commemorative date in which the struggles and labor demands reached by the world labor movement are remembered. It is celebrated almost everywhere in the world every May 1st.

The date is a tribute to the "Chicago Martyrs", a group of workers who died in the United States while protesting the reduction of working hours.

Curiously, in the United States, the place that gave rise to this commemoration, Labor Day is not celebrated on the first of May, but on the first Monday of September (Labor day).

See more about Labor Day.

Voluntary work

Volunteer work is one that a person does without receiving any kind of compensation for it, just for the satisfaction of helping others.

This type of work is often associated with various social causes, such as those carried out by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other non-profit institutions, in which people must be willing to work without receiving remuneration in return. It is very common among college students.

Today, there are many causes that it is possible to join as a volunteer worker, such as children in vulnerable situations, caring for the environment, rescuing abandoned animals, caring for the elderly, etc.


As teamwork, it is called that carried out by a group of people in a coordinated and collaborative way, to achieve a goal or solve a problem.

It is a way of working where the functions are distributed among the team members to develop the tasks together in a faster, more effective and efficient way.

It is essential in the organizational field, as well as in various sports, such as soccer, basketball or volleyball, where everyone contributes to achieve common goals.

See also Teamwork.

Collaborative work

Collaborative work is one that is carried out thanks to the participation of a group of people aimed at achieving a common goal.

It is a type of work carried out simultaneously and decentralized by a group of experts or connoisseurs, who put their knowledge at the service of the project. There is, therefore, no exclusive author.

This way of working applies, above all, information and communication technologies (ICT).

See also Collaborative work.


A work plan consists of organizing a series of activities to carry out a task.

It is a management tool that allows prioritizing, ordering and systematizing the steps necessary to complete a project, as well as establishing a work schedule, distributing responsibilities and defining objectives.

It is a very useful tool in organizations, since it facilitates decision-making.

See also Work plan.

Academic works

Academic works are the tasks that are required of students who attend university education institutions, and that aim to develop the critical spirit and intellectual capacity of students.

They can be exclusively written and must be submitted for teacher evaluation. Many academic papers require an oral presentation to an audience.

There are different types of academic papers, for example, theses, monographs, articles or papers, reports, reviews, essays, among others.

Field work

We speak of field work in reference to that which is carried out outside the office or laboratory, in the place where a phenomenon or process takes place.

The field work consists of all those notes, observations, drawings, photos, data collection or samples that are taken in the field where an investigation is being carried out. It is a term associated with the natural and social sciences.

See also Field work.

Social work

Social work is a discipline that is responsible for promoting changes in the social order, solving problems in human relationships and strengthening individuals and groups to increase their well-being.

Among the functions of a social worker are:

  • The articulation of networks between people and the various social organizations.
  • Stimulate the social participation of citizens.
  • Guide communities to establish mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Tags:  Expressions-Popular Technology-E-Innovation General