Remote working spreads in South Korea amid coronavirus fears

This file photo taken on Feb. 26, 2020, shows a thermal imaging camera installed in the lobby of Naver Corp.'s headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo taken on Feb. 26, 2020, shows a thermal imaging camera installed in the lobby of Naver Corp.’s headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Seoul: More South Korean companies are adopting remote working systems to help insulate their employees from COVID-19 and contain its spread, industry insiders said Thursday.

At 1,500, South Korea has the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases after China.

With the number of infections rising rapidly in a week, South Korea on Monday revised its public health guidance and ordered people with fever or respiratory problems to stop going to schools and companies and refrain from going outside.

In order to comply with state instructions and protect their employees, many South Korean companies have adopted the practice of working from home this week.

Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea’s No. 2 conglomerate, said its employees in Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi Province will be allowed to work at home on voluntary basis from Thursday to March 6, joining other major conglomerates like SK Group that adopted remote working earlier this week.

Major banks in South Korea, including Shinhan Bank and KB Kookmin Bank, also joined the move, although they said essential staff will continue to come to work.

Some companies even took the further step of giving their employees special paid leave this week.

NCsoft Corp., a major South Korean online game developer, said all of its employees have been awarded a special three-day holiday from Thursday to next Monday. Employees who are pregnant will get another 20-day holiday in addition to the special paid leave, it added.

To avoid their employees having close contact with others during rush hour, more South Korean companies are also encouraging staggered commuting hours.

Doosan Group said its employees can select their commuting time and the company will support parking fees for those who drive their cars to work. Employees who are pregnant or have underlying diseases are instructed to work at home, it added.


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