Pulling across rough surfaces

Moving a box across a rough surface you're working against a slip force. Lift a box and you're working against the gravity force. That's the significant change. You can choose trade-offs to get the job done (lend a hand or hand it over).

Once the job is done, there is another important difference. You get the change you wanted, but that's it. Unlike lifting something, where allowing it to fall again can drive another change for you (First lift water. Later, as it falls, the water can spin a turbine). All the working you out in is dissipated, as things warm up.

dragging through the air or water

Now you're working against the drag force, rather than the gravity force.

Again things warm up as a result of your working, if only a little. Drag forces, like slip forces are dissipative. You get a change, but you cannot (easily) get the change to give anything back.