Sustainability and ethics in the current work environment

Sustainability and ethics in the current work environment

by Mariapaola Rovetta


Before the Covid-19 health emergency we were dealing with the issue of sustainability. The topic is now more relevant than ever and extends to new situations that would never have been previously imagined. As is now known, the term sustainability means the orientation towards adopting a lifestyle aimed at satisfying the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This can be achieved through greater respect for the environment with the advantage of a better quality of life.

The concept of sustainability, and with it the broader concept of sustainable development, includes the environmental, economic and social contexts, extending to include a greater attention to more correct ethics also concerning human relationships. It has the goal of safeguarding the physical and mental well-being of the individual. A new way of life and current of thought also concerns the work environment, with burdens on both the employer and the employee. With regard to sustainability, the employer is obliged to apply all those measures within the workplace that are necessary to make the environment healthier in general (elimination of plastic, moderate use of electricity and heating, etc.) and to impose the relative rules of which the individual employee is obliged to respect, under penalty of disciplinary sanctions.

As for ethics, the employer is required to strive to build a better relationship with employees and between the employees themselves, through the creation of suitable programs. These having the aim of facing even the most difficult situations without negative repercussions on a psychological level and employees are required, in turn, to commit themselves to contribute to the achievement of that result.

In this current situation, in order to achieve greater physical and mental well-being of the employee, there are now many companies all over the world, but also in Italy, that promote physical activity among employees. The World Health Organization is clear, physical activity is essential, so much so that WHO is promoting it in every context (social, educational, etc.) and also in the workplace, for the physical and mental well-being of the individual. Scientific studies have shown that practicing sport, even during the working day, has brought advantages both for the worker (health, good mood, clarity) and for the employer (greater efficiency, productivity and less absenteeism). For now, companies have included sport within the work context as a benefit, but it may be necessary to include sport, as already happened for the first time in Sweden and as recognised in a ruling by a Spanish court, also as work time, with all the consequences that would derive from it on the basis of the provisions of our legal system.

The above principles are even more relevant after, following the health emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus, companies have begun to use remote working, a term by which we mean working “from home.” Modalities that some companies, regardless of the opinion of each of us, intend to apply definitively, even at the request of the workers themselves. At this point the concepts of sustainability and ethics and the related measures and commitments to be adopted will play a fundamental role, as: 1) the healthier the environment in which you work, the stronger the people will be, even under the psychological profile, to protect themselves from coronavirus and other viruses that may circulate in the future; 2) a better dialogue between employer and employees and between colleagues and a better lifestyle on the basis of the directives of the World Health Organization will be fundamental to keep the dynamism and motivation high also from the psychological point of view of the employee, in the face of greater business productivity.

In conclusion, even in the case of working from home, the rights and duties of the parties will be numerous and relevant also with the aim of ordering and preparing future generations for new life solutions that are more respectful to the environment in which we live.