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Much of modern day work-life is constantly being reimagined. Whether it’s the physical space of the office, the on-site amenities, or the clothes we’re allowed to wear, how we interact with work is much different than it once was. While traditionalists thought sitting on exercise balls was the final chapter in this rapid change, there’s conversation afoot related to the concept of “redefining work” — looking at new ways to approach the actual structure of how we work.

“Redefine Work: The Untapped Opportunity for Expanding Value” is a detailed exploration of what it means to redefine work. In the article, the authors express that the essence of redefining work is shifting the workers’ day-to-day time and effort into focusing on identifying unseen problems and opportunities for everyone involved.

What this means for a regular day of work is implementing less structure, standardized routine, and re-working skills, and more creating value through context-specific, non-routined, work-group oriented imaginative work. All of this can only work if AI and robots are able to perform this kind of secondary work, leaving humans free to focus on primary work and the experiences that develop intuitive human capabilities. This requires training people to unlearn how they’ve been working, and to relinquish a routined-manner for a creative, non-processed style approach.

If this new model for redefining work takes hold, we will be able to address “unseen problems and opportunities,” which then makes work fundamentally more efficient and valuable.

The article “Ruskin’s revival: can the great Victorian make us happier at work?”, reflects on the controversial social thinker John Ruskin and his beliefs on work in the Victorian era. In 1851, Ruskin stated, “In order that people may be happy at work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it; They must not do too much of it: and they must have a sense of success in it.”

While not every idea of Ruskin’s can be taken and applied to contemporary work environments, what he is saying about meaningful work makes sense in today’s context. Value increases if the work that is being done is substantial and well done, and as a result, everyone who is affiliated with the work is given the opportunity to challenge a once rigid structure.

The work we do should be something only humans are capable of, whether it’s applying multi-faceted ideas to the process of solving an issue before the issue has even come into fruition or finding a sense of joy and meaning in the work we do. This is what makes the concept of redefining work so compelling and relevant today.

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