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[Coronavirus] Epidemic brings about unexpected changes in corporate culture

By Lim Chang-won Posted : March 4, 2020, 17:23 Updated : March 4, 2020, 17:23

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- A raging coronavirus epidemic is bringing about unexpected changes in South Korea's corporate culture as companies, led by startups, scramble forward to prevent the shutdown of their operation by introducing telecommuting, video conferencing and a flexible or voluntary work system.

Companies that quickly introduce telecommuting are large companies equipped well with telework systems. SK Telecom, a top mobile carrier in South Korea, has implemented a telecommuting system since February 25, followed by Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and LG Electronics.

Companies affiliated with Samsung and other major conglomerates have introduced telecommuting mainly for pregnant women. According to Rsupport, a remote support solution provider, the number of video conferencing for the third week in February increased 819.4 percent compared to the first week.

The pacemaker, as usual, is the startup industry, which applied telework quickly, used technology platforms to maintain work efficiency and replaced offline events with YouTube broadcasts. The bold introduction of telecommuting at start-ups was attributed to a collaborative culture, trust among employees, and IT systems that allow employees to work remotely.

Based on their experience that sitting in an office does not increase work efficiency, many startups have already applied a voluntary commuting system, video conferencing, four-day workweek. They think that trust in employees and a horizontal corporate culture affect flexible work patterns.

"We are still working without major problems at the moment, perhaps because of our usual consideration of efficient collaboration and our constant communication with members," said Dano co-CEO Chung Bum-yoon. "For successful telecommuting, it is important to utilize IT tools such as collaborative tools, but fundamentally, a reliable collaboration culture and work protocols between members are important."

Dano, a weight-loss solution provider that sells high-end diet products via its online platform and operates a paid-fitness coaching service app, has used OKR (Objective+Key Results), a task goal management tool that can effectively manage the progress of work.

There is a compelling market prediction that even after the epidemic subsided, telecommuting and video conferencing would become common to increase work efficiency and employee satisfaction. "It will be an opportunity for many companies to experience the efficiency and productivity of telecommuting," an IT industry official said, suggesting the demand for corporate software would increase after South Korea contained the coronavirus crisis.

Jandi, a group-oriented enterprise messaging platform with an integrated suite of collaboration tools, is getting popular among companies trying to introduce telecommuting, according to Toss Lab, a SaaS (Software as a Service) enterprise software company.

Currently, 200,000 companies use Jandi, with more than 5,000 companies having access to it every day, Toss Lab CEO Kim Dae-hyun said. "There are many cases where existing customers who have introduced Jandi have quickly decided on telework and have dealt with the spread of COVID-19 in a flexible manner," he said, citing a rapid increase in the number of inquiries about telecommuting.

As the season for regular shareholders' meetings comes in March, Samsung Electronics and other big companies are promoting an electronic voting system to prevent infections. The system was introduced in 2010 to help minority shareholders exercise their voting rights, but its utilization rate is still low because many shareholders favor computers or smartphones.

According to the Korea Securities Depository (KSD), a post-trade service provider, 113,000 out of 9.99 million eligible shareholders used electronic voting in 2019.

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