Although the COVID-19 pandemic is easing in many places, it’s still a huge challenge in some parts of the world, including China. And in China’s financial center – Shanghai – leadership and creative solutions from corporate real estate (CRE) are enabling crucial banking and other operations to continue unabated despite the lockdown announced earlier this week.

As reported by NBC News, the city of Shanghai is battling the latest virus outbreak with a two-phase lockdown that began Monday in the financial district of Pudong.

“The COVID cases started to rise at the beginning of March,” recalls Shane Guan, MCR, Head of Commercial, China, for Iron Mountain. “On the 27th March, the government announced that half of the city, including Pudong, would be locked down from the 28th until the first of April. Then the other side, Puxi, would be in lockdown from the first of April until the fifth of April.”

The many international banks, investment banks, retail banks and financial institutions in Shanghai are mostly in Pudong, Guan explains. “There, employees doing trading and similar functions were asked to stay in the office and continue working from midnight of the 27th March. In other words, the entire financial sector remained open through the lockdown, just to minimize any impact on the economy and help maintain Shanghai as one of the leading global financial markets.”

It took a lot of work from CRE and facility professionals to support that kind of 24 x 7 effort from the thousands of employees working for those financial institutions.

“They had to provide sleeping beds, food and beverage, and amenity items,” Guan says. “CRE put a lot of effort into this at a difficult time so that the business can continue to operate. As a result, the BCP (business continuity plan) is working. The resilience of the CRE profession has increased a lot in the past two years, and it is proactive in managing through difficulties like these.”

On a personal level, Guan feels fortunate that his residential block has no COVID cases – meaning he is permitted to leave home and go to his office. “My office building has been open every day, and I was in the office until 5:00pm yesterday (Thursday),” he says. “But when I get to the office, I must demonstrate that I have done the COVID test and show my green health code.”

Guan reports that business is good at Iron Mountain, and for him, it was particularly busy as the month of March, and the first quarter, drew to a close. “We exceeded our targets,” he says.

Guan has recently taken on some responsibility for the company’s Hong Kong and Taiwan operations, in addition to China, and looks forward to visiting those locations and meeting with his teams and customers – as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.