WHEN the coronavirus pandemic began to have a serious impact on business, which began about the beginning of March in most countries, one of the few encouraging developments was the apparent relative ease with which most companies transitioned to remote work, or “working from home.” The business world’s unexpected ability to make a virtue out […] Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced new findings today from a consumer survey revealing that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half (54%) of employed Americans are now planning to work in retirement — with many (40%) noting an interest to have a "safety net" to cover Thiago Silva’s agent sets timeline, expectations for Chelsea’s new center back Lambs Farmyard, which closed in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened in July. Advanced reservations must be made online before coming to see the nearly 300 assorted critters including Stella the cow, Mezzo the pig and Snoopy the goat.
WHEN the coronavirus pandemic began to have a serious impact on business, which began about the beginning of March in most countries, one of the few encouraging developments was the apparent relative ease with which most companies transitioned to remote work, or “working from home.”
The business world’s unexpected ability to make a virtue out of necessity at first seemed to bode well for the world economy’s eventual recovery from its pandemic collapse. Since businesses seemed to adapt so quickly, the logical assumption was that they would be able to learn to become even more efficient and productive the longer the “new normal” dragged on. With no certain end to the pandemic in sight and with the even most hopeful estimates putting it no sooner than the later part of 2021, that businesses seemed to be embracing remote work made the prospects of shifting from economic damage control to some recognizable growth trajectory appear a bit more likely.
That point of view, however, was a little optimistic. About a month ago, an article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed that a growing number of executives are quickly coming to the conclusion that working from home, or “WFH,” as all the cool kids refer to it, is rapidly losing its appeal and is unsustainable. The telling fact that the story, five full weeks after its publication behind WSJ’s paywall, is still being widely shared in social media suggests that the sentiment it reveals is relatable to business people all over the world.
The problems expressed by the executives cited by the article are more than just mundane issues of domestic distractions for people working online, or occasional (or, if you’re in the Philippines, near-constant) internet connectivity problems but rather much bigger issues, for which envisioning a solution other than putting everyone back in the office where they belong is almost impossible at this point. The article summarized the key complaints: “Projects take longer. Training is tougher. Hiring and integrating new employees, more complicated. Some employers say their workers appear less connected and bosses fear that younger professionals aren’t developing at the same rate as they would in offices, sitting next to colleagues and absorbing how they do their jobs.”
If these problems sound familiar, it is because anecdotal evidence from Philippine companies and workers highlights the same issues. The results of a number of staff surveys conducted by large employers reveal similar complaints: Difficulties in time management and maintaining boundaries between “work” and “personal” hours; slower and less clear communications with bosses and coworkers; difficulties in handling human resources matters; and overall perceptions of lower productivity, both as a self-assessment and as a judgment of one’s peers. While there does seem to be a small segment of the workforce that actually does have a preference for WFH arrangements and would be happy to continue, the overwhelming majority of workers, across a variety of businesses, express a strong wish to return to “normal” as soon as possible.
From my point of view, these sentiments simply reinforce a concern that economic policymakers are overlooking the impact on productivity of “the new normal.” We are constantly being told that “signs of an economic turnaround” are evident, the implication of that being that measures to allow economic activity — operating a business, doing one’s job, and being a consumer — to be conducted “safely” also allow economic activity to be carried out at something close to its pre-pandemic velocity. It becomes increasingly obvious that assumption is fallacious the longer the pandemic drags on without clear indications of a solution that will substantially reduce or eliminate the coronavirus as a universal threat.
On the other hand, solving a forward-looking “productivity penalty” variable in an economic protection would be a serious challenge for even a very bright economist, and so perhaps we should judge our analysts and policymakers too harshly. Six months into an unprecedented crisis of indeterminate duration, no one can yet claim to have a clear understanding of it, nor a clear idea of what its outcomes will be.
That is certainly not an optimistic note on which to be starting yet another month, but it is what is. We would like to believe that we can pursue higher objectives than simply “enduring,” but if we continue to hone our skills at doing that, at least we can probably count on still being here when brighter opportunities finally do appear.
Author: By Ben Kritz
New Voya Survey Finds Half of Employed Americans Plan to Work in Retirement as a Result of COVID-19
55% of working individuals also report preferring to save enough to last through retirement compared to being completely debt-free
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced new findings today from a consumer survey revealing that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half (54%) of employed Americans are now planning to work in retirement — with many (40%) noting an interest to have a “safety net” to cover unexpected costs and prepare for market volatility as their reasons.
Voya’s data also showed that, despite a world of financial uncertainty, saving for retirement still remains a top priority for many: More than half (55%) of individuals said they would prefer to save enough to last through retirement rather than be completely debt-free. This preference for retirement savings over being debt-free was even more prevalent among individuals currently receiving investment guidance through a financial professional or managed account (67%) and those who are enrolled in a retirement savings plan (65%).
“While we know many are having to address financial challenges due to COVID-19, it is a positive to see that the majority see the value in saving for a secure financial future,” said Charlie Nelson, CEO of Retirement and Employee Benefits for Voya Financial. “In addition to our recent survey, Voya’s own participant data shows signs of a focus on the long term: Of those participants in Voya-managed retirement plans who recently changed their savings rate, nearly 70% increased their contributions.1”
When it comes to generational views on retirement goals, Voya’s data also found that COVID-19 has had an impact on retirement planning for all savers. The survey notes that 59% of currently employed baby boomers plan to work in retirement as a result of the pandemic, as well as 60% of Generation X and nearly half (49%) of millennials. The good news is that this sentiment about retirement is correlating to actions when it comes to saving for the future, particularly for millennials. Voya’s own participant data also shows that among those who have recently changed their savings rate, approximately two-thirds (64%) of millennials are taking steps to increase their contributions, a growth of 16% over the year prior.2
“We’re encouraged to see this understanding of needing to take a ‘long-term view’ exists across age groups, in particular those with a longer retirement horizon,” added Nelson. “While the majority of generations have seen challenging times and volatile markets before, the findings of our survey and our own data show an even greater opportunity for employers to help their employees address both short- and long-term needs. Employers should maintain communications around their workplace benefit offerings to ensure employees understand how the right tools and guidance can help them achieve their retirement savings and broader financial wellness goals. And with open enrollment season about to begin, this is an opportune time to consider ways to ensure employees are taking advantage of all their benefit offerings.”
Voya’s survey also found a promising outlook on retirement saving for most individuals as roughly half (50%) reported ownership of a retirement plan, either through an employer-sponsored plan or an individual retirement account. This number increased from Voya’s prior wave of research in June (44%).
As an industry leader and advocate for greater retirement readiness, Voya Financial is committed to delivering on its vision to be America’s Retirement Company® and its mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time.
All data outlined in this release, unless noted otherwise, is based on the results of a Voya Financial survey conducted through Ipsos on the Ipsos eNation omnibus online platform among 1,005 adults aged 18+ in the U.S. Research was conducted in five waves in 2020: March 25–26; April 22–23; May 29–June 1; June 29–30; and July 30–31.
1 & 2. Voya plan participant data as of June 30, 2020, compared with June 30, 2019.
About Voya Financial®
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better. Serving the financial needs of approximately 13.8 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $7.5 billion in revenue in 2019. The company had $606 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2020. With a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time — Voya’s vision is to be America’s Retirement Company®. Certified as a “Great Place to Work” by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has been recognized as a 2020 World’s Most Admired Company by Fortune magazine; one of the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute; as a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index; and as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” on the Disability Equality Index by Disability:IN. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.
Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multispecialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD). ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com.
Ipsos is a separate entity and not a corporate affiliate of Voya Financial®.
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200901005115/en/
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‘His life is home – work, work – home’: Thiago Silva will join up with Chelsea this week
Thiago Silva is set to arrive in London this week, according to his agent. The veteran center back, who signed with Chelsea last week, just a couple days after the Champions League final, has been on relaxing in Italy since — still finding time for a medical and a contract-signing, both of which took place in Milano.
Italy is fortunately on the exempt list for UK quarantine requirements, so Silva should be able to get straight to work once he lands. Given his personality, he will undoubtedly be itching to get back to it as soon as possible — and not a moment too soon since the season starts in two weeks!
“He is on holiday in Italy, he will be in London between now and the end of the week.
“He is happy to discover the Premier League. We had a lot of offers, but Chelsea are one of the world’s top 10 clubs.
“Physically, Thiago can play for another 5 or 6 years at the highest level. He is an athlete who looks after himself. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t party. His life is home – work, work – home.”
-Paulo Tonietto; source: L’Equipe via GFFN
All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but it makes Thiago an exciting signing instead.
Author: David Pasztor
Lambs Farm reopens gates for visitors with online reservations
A visitor to Lambs Farm feeds one of the animals that can be visited through October. (Lambs Farm)
Stella, Mezzo, Snoopy and the rest of the farmyard gang are waiting for a visit from the public at Lambs Farm in Libertyville.
Lambs Farmyard, which closed in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened in July. Advanced reservations must be made online before coming to see the nearly 300 assorted critters including Stella the cow, Mezzo the pig and Snoopy the goat. “The farmyard is one of our most popular attractions in the summertime,” said Marisa Rademaker, marketing and communications manager of the nonprofit organization helping people with developmental disabilities.
“We have a ton of space here so it makes it very easy to social distance,” she said. “We do require masks in all our facilities. We have good guidelines to keep everyone safe and healthy.”
Usually, some of the approximately 200 residents at Lambs Farm work at the farmyard, but state COVID regulations are not allowing that right now because they are especially vulnerable to the virus, Rademaker said. “We’re keeping them safe and healthy until it’s OK to work. They’re definitely missed.”
The farmyard is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday until the end of October. COVID regulations allow entry of up to 50 people per hour. Visitors can feed the animals, and hay bags can be purchased online or at the farmyard. The $5 entry fee per person also includes playing the nine-hole miniature golf course nearby.
Plenty of critters, including goats, horses, turkeys, chickens and rabbits await the curious children and adults. Then there’s Sam, the 74-year-old tortoise, who strolls around the farmyard to his heart’s content. “He’s older than Lambs Farm,” Rademaker said.
The most recognizable creature is Joseph the camel. “He was originally brought here for camel rides,” Rademaker said. “The camel rides took a toll on his joints, so we decided to let him go into retirement.”
The Discovery Center, which houses lizards, chinchillas and guinea pigs, is closed. But animal keepers bring out select creatures for visitors to see during the day. Recently, a bearded dragon rode outdoors on the shoulder of one of the animal keepers.
Goats and other animals are waiting for visitors at Lambs Farm in Libertyville. (Lambs Farm)
“One of the reasons I was so excited we were able to open up the farmyard was because it’s a tradition for a lot of people,” said Rademaker, who grew up in the area visiting Lambs Farm. “There’s a lot to see here. I think people love coming knowing the proceeds support our participants.”
On select weekends, pony rides are available — and Lambs Farm is also accepting up to 25 online registrations for its farmyard yoga class at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9, with a few more scheduled later. The class is $20 per person. “We have a very large pasture in the farmyard,” she said. Everybody wears masks as they do their yoga poses with 20 to 30 animals walking around. “Sometimes when people are doing poses, the animals will walk right underneath you. They try to go on backs and they don’t want to get off your towel. They keep it fun,” Rademaker said.
Also open at Lambs Farm Tuesdays through Saturdays are the Sugar Maple Country Store, a restaurant, a thrift shop and the pet center, where dogs and cats are available for adoption. Those interested in adopting need to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment. The pets are rescued animals — and Rademaker said adopting dogs has been popular the past few months.
Lambs Farm also opened a kitten room this year where cats can be adopted.
Providing vocational, residential and recreational programs to adults with developmental disabilities, Lambs Farm usually sees thousands of visitors every year. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 70-acre farm stopped welcoming visitors in mid-March, then reopened when Gov. Pritzker’s orders made it possible. “We are so grateful to have the support from all of our guests. Everybody is so understanding,” Rademaker said. “We’re so happy to have people back on the farm.”
Lambs Farm Farmyard and Mini Golf
Where: 14245 W. Rockland Road, Libertyville
When: 10 am.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, online advanced reservations required
Sheryl DeVore is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.
Recommended on Chicago Tribune
Author: Sheryl DeVore
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