SEOUL, South Korea -- A unicorn start-up company based in South Korea is offering office spaces for rent for companies wanting to go completely paperless and relocate to a more sustainable and affordable space—the metaverse.
Zigbang launched the virtual office program ‘Soma’ in May. Inside this metaverse known as the ‘Soma World’ stands the main building for working, a convention center that can accommodate up to 3,000 people, a networking hub, and the Zigbang headquarters. As the physical restraints of an offline workspace are gone, employees who work for an office inside the Soma can log in from any city or country with an internet connection.
“[Working inside Soma] is basically like meeting in the real world, but actually virtual. So there's the convenience of being far apart but still being together,” David Kim, Business development manager of Soma, told ABC News.
More than 2,000 people work inside the PropTech Tower, a 30-story building leased to 20 global and domestic companies. Users can work in their office with their colleagues, spend time in a shared lounge to network with other companies, or even take a virtual stroll by the deck.
Zigbang is not the only company investing in the futuristic working environment. Tech giants Meta and Microsoft are working on future workspaces using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technology. Online world pioneers like Teamflow and Gather also provide a means of work calls and work discussions in the virtual space.
But Zigbang says Soma has an edge on the rivals by offering the most realistic office setting possible for its users. While getting rid of the physical restraints of commuting to work, Soma offers a working environment that makes everyone feel engaged. Avatars would have their walk to office spaces rather than jumping from room to room with a single click. Instead of sending instant chats, employees casually talk to each other with their own voices as they would in an actual office.
“Soma also has great strength in ESG management, a recent global issue. It can greatly help protect the environment by implementing a paperless working environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commuting,” Sunwoong Lyuh, Zigbang's Vice President, explained to ABC News.
Zigbang, sponsored and partially funded by South Korea’s Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Startups, has also become an example as part of the government's initiative to support beginning enterprises to meet ESG goals set by the United Nations.
“A company based in the metaverse dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of a workplace that may include everything from transportation used during the commute to work to office supplies like pen and paper in everyday office life,” the Ministry of Environment’s global media spokesperson Minjo Chun told ABC News.
As of now, companies that are based inside Soma are not obliged to pay rent or maintenance fees to Zigbang.
“Soma is not charging any rent to the companies leasing space inside the Soma world,” Lyuh told ABC News. “Our focus is on providing the new working experience of ‘face-to-face remote work’ to as many companies as possible.”
ABC News' Eunseo Nam and Hyerim Lee contributed to this report.