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IT firms return to remote working amid 'second wave'


An increasing number of South Korean tech companies began to allow their employees to work from home again as a precautionary measure amid the resurgence of novel coronavirus infections, industry officials said Tuesday.

On Sunday, the government raised social distancing in Seoul and its neighboring areas by one notch to Level 2 in the three-tier system for two weeks. On Tuesday, the country reported 246 new confirmed cases, raising the country's total caseload to 15,761.

Social distancing refers to a series of tactics designed to keep people from gathering in large crowds, including working from home, canceling school and avoiding in-person meetings.

Major large IT firms, many of which briefly adopted teleworking and a flexible working scheme in late February, started allowing their employees to work from home again, the officials said.

Kakao Corp., the operator of South Korea's leading mobile messaging app Kakao Talk, said all its employees have been allowed to work from home starting from last Friday.

"There has been no confirmed case among our employees. The decision is part of a precautionary measure and will be carried out indefinitely for now," said a company official who asked not to be named.

The company first adopted the remote working system in late February and returned to the normal scheme on July 7.

The country's top internet portal operator Naver Corp. also began partial work-from-home arrangements starting last week.

Employees only need to show up for work at the office for two days and work at their home for another four days, officials said.

Gaming giant Nexon Co. also said it will begin partial work-from-home arrangements, ordering its employees to show up at office only two days a week.

Leading mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. said it is enforcing a remote-work system until Aug. 23 due to the recent social distancing measure. This is the third time the telecom operator has employed the policy since February.

Local rival KT Corp. has also adopted a partial work-from-home policy until Aug. 23.

The precautionary measures come as the two telecom operators have previously reported infections in their headquarters buildings in central Seoul. (Yonhap)