Why Entrepreneurs in Korea Flourish in Coworking Spaces

Every year more and more co-working space in Seoul are opening up which means more entrepreneurs in Korea are moving into those spaces. Coworking spaces attract freelancers and other independent professionals who want to work in a shared, communal space. Koreans for decades wanted to work for a big corporation and get a stable office job. That mentality is changing and coworking spaces have been a huge part of that shift.

Korean coworkings spaces in Seoul

In Seoul alone, there are over 50 co-working spaces. Some of the most notable include WeWorkFast FiveFab LabSeoul Startup HubGoogle Campus SeoulMaru 180, and the most recent HEYGROUND. WeWork announced on Feb. 22nd that it would open its 18th shared office in Seoul in July.  There is also a new Blockchain coworking/co-living space called Nonce that recently opened up. What you will find in all of these co-working spaces in Seoul is entrepreneurs working on projects they really care about. 

Traditional Office vs Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces offer entrepreneurs to work next to people doing different kinds of things. Traditional office work in Korea is looked upon negatively. Everyone is working on the same project and there is a lot of internal office politics. It is very difficult to grow your network and learn from others. The culture of just doing your job and staying in your lane shifts when you are working at the coworking space. The working culture of helping each other out and being a part of a community is attracting a lot of Korean office workers who feel trapped. They want to be a part of something. There is a growing social movement to change working life in Korea and many Entrepreneurs in Korea that work in coworking spaces feel like they are a part of that movement.

Entrepreneurs in Korea want more Flexibility

Many who worked for a Korean company might already know this but working hours can be brutal. 9 to 6 does not mean 9 to 6. It is frowned upon to even be a minute late and to leave at exactly 6 pm is unheard of. It is all about working harder and not smarter. Most Korean startups in co-working spaces bring a different work culture. People can decide whether to put in long hours when they have a deadline or can take long breaks during the day. Most co-working spaces in Korea are open 24 hours a day. Therefore most Korean startups allow for their workers to take a few hours off work to take care of personal needs. They can even choose where they want to work, whether it be a communal space or a quiet space to focus.

Entrepreneurs in Korea want to be a part of a Community

Koreans like most people like being a part of a community. However, they have the stereotype of wanting to be left alone in tight cubicles or working from home alone. While Japan and Korea still have this stereotype, times are changing. Each coworking space in Seoul has its own identity, and the managers do a great job of cultivating unique experiences. HEYGROUND does meetups and panel talks bring in speakers from outside of Korea. These events and meetups are not mandatory. Members can decide whether or not they want to participate. Just the fact that there is a potential for interaction is key for most Koreans to break out of their shell.

Coworking Space Korea

What Korean Companies can Learn from Coworking Spaces

Entrepreneurs in Korea want purpose and meaning in their life. Most office workers in Korea complain about having no real purpose and stuck in their routine office life. Workers should have more control and flexibility in their work environment. One way Korean companies can do this is just simply setting up areas for collaborative work and spaces for quiet work. A bold idea is to actually make a portion of the office a coworking space. Bring in one or two Korean startups to enhance community and innovation.

The trend of more and more entrepreneurs in Korea moving into co-working spaces in Seoul are not slowing down anytime soon. With high office space prices in Gangnam, co-working spaces are even becoming an option for Korean companies. This is a good thing. The working culture in Korea already has a bad name but with co-working spaces, this can and will change.