Employees of South Korea’s Kakao reject calls to return to office

More than 50% of Kakao employees have reportedly joined the Krew Union in response to a mandated return to office this March.
By: | January 13, 2023

A recent decision by South Korean internet company Kakao to end its full remote working policy has prompted more than 50% of its employees to join Krew Union, which represents a group of unionised employees of the company and its affiliates.

They have reportedly been joined by employees from Kakao Games, Kakao Entertainment, and Kakao Enterprise, after they were told to return to work in the office this year. The proportion of Kakao employees who joined the union stood at around 10% last year, reported The Korea Times.

Last December, an announcement was made regarding the transition to the “office-first” system, under which all Kakao employees will be required to work in the office in principle, and prior approval from their respective managers is required if remote work is necessary. Employees have since rushed to join the union in an apparent protest against the forced return to the office, which will begin in March this year.

Seo Seung-wook, Leader of Krew Union, said, “Our employees are particularly displeased with the lack of conversation with the management about the work system reform. However, the increase in the number of union members is not just attributed to the end of the work-from-home system. There are various other reasons that prompted our employees to join the union.”

READ: South Korean internet platform ends remote working policy

For instance, some Kakao employees raised concerns about the lack of space in their office, cafeteria, and parking spaces, as Kakao’s Pangyo Agit office building in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, opened last year based on the fully remote working system, with only a limited number of hot desks to be reserved for those needing to use the office.

In response, Kakao has planned to enlarge those spaces in line with the new work system. Kakao also claimed to have clarified to its employees that the fully remote work system would be run on a trial basis until the end of last December. It also emphasised that it had surveyed and interviewed the employees before reforming its work system.