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Musing on "What is Work?"

Posted by on June 6, 2012

Simple concept, but have you thought about it?  It’s funny because if you ask an entrepreneur or a self-employed person what they consider work or how many hours they work a week you will get a very different answer than if you ask someone with a regular 9-5 job.  That’s because start-ups and small companies are fun.  These types of companies have “gamification” built into them from the get-go.  You’re the underdog trying to compete against the bigger guys, your scrappy, work your own hours, and work on fun projects.  Large enterprises don’t typically have this feel at all which is why work is a very distinct feeling for those who have full-time jobs and those who don’t.  But at what point does the law of diminishing returns kick in?  Is there a point during growth where a company crosses a certain threshold which causes it no longer become “fun.”  After all, every company started small right?

Work is technically defined as “any activity involving physical or mental effort to achieve a purpose or result.”  This would mean that we are always working on anything from reading, to fixing something in the house, to picking kids up from school.  Why then do we always assume and associate “work” and “working” with our jobs?  Because that is where we spend the most of our physical and mental effort, our lives are work!

When someone asks me how many hours a week I work I say, “I have no idea, I’m always working except when I’m not.”  But, that’s because work to me doesn’t always feel like work.  When I ask my friends with full-time jobs how many hours they work, they always come back to me with numbers that range from 40-75 or more.  Several large companies I know are experimenting (successfully) with their own internal start-up like environments to help bring this feeling of the small company to an otherwise massive beast of an organization.

How many hours a week do you work?  What do you define as “work?”

  • Skhanna

    Totally agree- I “work” 16 hours a day – I have a full time “JOB” and am a house maker and a Mother to a 5 month old. So lets differentiatiate between WORK and JOB.
    I enjoy every piece of the work I do during the day….

    Chose a job you love, and will never have to work a day in your life! Confucious

    • Hi Skhanna, sounds like you have quite a busy day and congrats on the new baby!  Love the quote you included at the end, thanks for that and for the comment.

  • qqwean

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