We video chat with people on the other side of the world. Cars are driving themselves. And Elon Musk has a spaceship that will take us to Mars. Vast and rapid change is happening across nearly every spectrum of life and business. Yet, one aspect of our culture remains relatively stagnant: the workplace. The way we work essentially remains rooted in the 9 - 5 protocol put in place over 100 years ago by Henry Ford. Why hasn't that changed?

For many of us, and particularly for those relatively new to the workplace, the way work is designed is a few frustrating steps away from being better. What if our company was run a little bit differently, or our company culture was really a top priority, or the way we work was an open forum to discover better ways to work for everyone involved? How would work need to change so we all can feel like we're working at forward-thinking companies like the Googles of the world?

Now, with the help of OpenWork, a non-profit organization, employees have access to a platform to voice their opinion and foster change. OpenWork believes any company has the potential to bring about progressive change by creating an open forum to exchange ideas from the ground up while remaining committed to working through change. OpenWork strives to spark change by working with companies to implement new practices and policies to create a better employee experience. OpenWork's mission is grounded by the beliefs of leaders representing organizations such as The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The New America Foundation, The Society for Human Resource Management, and many others.

How can you get started with OpenWork? The first step is to participate in OpenWork's anonymous survey so they can better understand your experience at work and how best to help you. The survey measures several elements of the workplace experience including company culture, workplace productivity, and the importance of collaboration in the workplace. Once you've completed the survey, you'll be given a company score and can see where your company ranks among the rest. Rally your friends and coworkers to do the same, and OpenWork will help communicate the aggregated results to your company as a way to stimulate changes to the way we all work together.

Update: Take this survey to get your voice heard and join the OpenWork commitment to changing the way we work!

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It's easy to forget that the presidency of the United States is a government job just like any other–in that it comes with a stipulated salary and benefits.

But regardless of their bombastic rhetoric or self-serious public image, politicians are like all other government employees. The president, vice president, and legislators earn an annual income from the government in exchange for their duties, which include: executing/circumventing the law, upholding/withholding the civil liberties of American citizens, and legislating/sabotaging how societal institutions meet the needs of citizens, from healthcare to education.

If you've ever wondered what American politicians earn for all their hard work arguing across the aisle and starting Twitter feuds, look no further:

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Maybe you've had a high stress occupation before, like social work or stock trading, and fell victim to the high burnout rate of these kinds of jobs.

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What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.