Shared Offices Catch On In Tech Savvy Korea

Hanwha Life converted its own 15-story office building near Gangnam Subway Station into the biggest shared office space in southern Seoul, big enough for 2,500 workers. And Hyundai Card opened a shared office, also near Gangnam Subway Station, early last year.

As demand grows, the offices are getting bigger, and they are springing up not only in central business areas but also on the outskirts.

"Capacity was 100-150 when we first opened in Gangnam, but that increased to 1,500 in the offices we recently opened," a FastFive staffer said. "Now our locations are also expanding to Yeouido and the Hongik University area."

The trend is mainly powered by proliferating start-ups. The number of venture companies in Korea stood at 28,000 in 2012 but had soared to 35,000 last year, up around 25 percent. For them, not having to rent an expensive office building is a godsend.

The effect of similar businesses gathering in one location is also an advantage. Plus it improves the value of commercial property.

A WeWork staffer said, "Shared offices housing start-ups improve the environment of a building, and landlords prefer such arrangements because they can lease several floors at a time. Now we’re going to open shared offices in landmark buildings in Seoul."

But there are signs that the market is overheating. "We can't expect the number of start-ups to grow indefinitely and supply is rising too quickly," an industry insider said. "We have to cast around for new demand." 

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Shared Offices Catch on in Tech-Savvy Korea
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