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Co-working spaces could get unexpected boost from coronavirus outbreak

(Reuters)
(Reuters)



The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has created a new demand for global shared workspace provider WeWork in Korea, despite initial fears the outbreak would spook potential customers.

WeWork, which currently operates 19 locations in Korea, told The Korea Herald on Thursday that Korean companies mindful of the COVID-19 epidemic are reaching out to WeWork for an alternative workspace.

“Companies of all sizes and industries in the region -- members and nonmembers - have been reaching out to us for multiple workplace options, as part of their proactive precautionary measure against COVID-19. We see demand from companies looking for alternative locations to house employees,” a WeWork spokesperson said.

The WeWork spokesperson added that the company strengthened precautionary measures across all of its Korea locations as the crisis alert level was raised to the highest “red” level by the Korean government Sunday.

The shared-space provider says it has taken extensive precautionary measures since Monday, closing down shared amenities like its photo studios, wellness rooms and game rooms. The firm also placed disposable cups in the pantry area.

The company currently plans to open a new location in Gangnam, southern Seoul, in the first half of this year.

Domestic coworking space company FastFive also has seen new demand despite the worsening COVID-19 crisis.

“We have received inquiries from various companies to find temporary work spaces in fear of closing down their headquarters,” said Lee Min-hae, who is responsible for FastFive’s marketing.

FastFive, which opened four new locations this month, said it has not seen any cancellations among customers who had recently signed a contract.

The domestic firm has also taken cautionary measures to ensure the safety of customers within its shared office spaces.

“FastFive’s Seoul Forest branch in Seongdong-gu, Seoul, utilizes a thermal camera on the ground floor to detect visitors with a high temperature. Then, we double check with a thermometer,” said Lee.

FastFive has placed masks and hand sanitizer in all of its 23 locations, even replacing mugs with disposable cups.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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