Why Entrepreneurs in Seoul Flourish in Coworking Spaces

Up until 2020, more and more co-working spaces in Seoul opened up and many entrepreneurs in Seoul are moved into these spaces. Once COVID-19 hit Korea, many startups in Korea had to leave these coworking spaces and consider remote working. While many startups were able to adapt, many lost out on the many benefits these coworking spaces provided. Coworking spaces attract freelancers and other independent professionals who want to work in a shared, communal space. Therefore this was a great way for entrepreneurs to network and potentially find partners and clients. Koreans for decades wanted to work for a big corporation and got a stable office job. That mentality started to chance from 2010 as more and more people embraced entrepreneurship in Korea. Times are continuing to change 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 for Startups CampusMaru 180, and the most recent HEYGROUND. There is also a new Blockchain co-working/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. Sadly many of these coworking spaces in Seoul are in danger of closing down due to coronavirus. There are many startups in Seoul that are switching from their full membership to the hold membership. Many already know about the issues facing WeWork as they are facing a lot of pressure on short-term finances while also having to deal with questions regarding their long-term business model. 

Entrepreneurs in Seoul Thrived in CoWorking Spaces

CoWorking spaces in Seoul brought a lot of benefits to the startup community. It was not just about networking, free coffee, and comfy furniture. Many Co-working spaces in Seoul pride themselves on the strength of their community. An offline community has a stronger impact than an online community. Those that have done meetings on Zoom understand just how less effective it is compared to face to face. In addition, many of these co-working spaces offered great networking events and startup events that provided a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs in Seoul. 

It is highly unlikely the major co-working spaces will close down. What it will come down to is whether they can come up with an agreement or a middle ground that will not but the landlord of these huge office buildings in Seoul in a complicated situation. It is in their best interest not to lose the coworking space. Korea is most likely to recover faster than other countries because they have been able to flatten the curve of coronavirus over the past few months. However, the future for many of these coworking spaces in Seoul is uncertain. For now many are looking for ways to be innovative and build new communities online. 

Traditional Office vs Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces offer entrepreneurs the opportunity 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 Seoul 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 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 on.

Entrepreneurs in Seoul want to be a part of a Community

Seoulz is a part of the Seoul Global Center Community and it has brought so much value to our company. 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. In addition, many of these entrepreneurs can help you get settled in Korea, help with South Korean Visas, help find the right lawyers/accountants, and introduce you to potential clients. 

Coworking Space Korea

What Korean Companies can Learn from Coworking Spaces

Entrepreneurs in Seoul 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 Seoul moving into co-working spaces in Seoul is 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.