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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Shanghai operators sleep in offices to continue working

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(Bloomberg) — As China’s major financial centers grapple with their worst Covid outbreaks to date, many fund managers are unpacking their sleeping bags on trading floors in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Many traders are volunteering to take turns sleeping in their offices to avoid tight restrictions at a time when Chinese capital markets are experiencing their biggest bout of volatility since mid-2020.

Shanghai became one of the epicenters of new coronavirus infections in the country. Employees braced for the possibility of sudden closures that could force operators to quarantine at home or at work for days or even weeks. That means making sure workers have supplies on hand in case they get stuck in the office. At AXA SPDB Investment Managers Co., for example, staff have access to air mattresses, instant noodles and emergency kits.

“We are on the front lines of investment here and we need faster and more effective personal communications,” said Alex Wang, who along with a dozen of his colleagues at another fund company volunteered to take turns living in his Shanghai office during the last two weeks with the consent of the company.

Shanghai’s city government has mandated people in its major business and financial districts to work from home as it implements residential and office closures as well as mass testing to combat the country’s worst covid outbreak since the pandemic emerged in of 2020. The beginnings of nearly 400 cases will be reported over the past two days in Pudong district, where a group of domestic and international banks and the Shanghai Stock Exchange are located.

While some businesses allow workers to return to the office if they can submit negative nucleic test results, which are typically taken within 48 hours, other businesses simply cannot because they have closed their buildings indefinitely for covid testing, similar to what happened last week at the Shanghai Tower, where firms like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Fitch Ratings Inc. have officials.

China’s stock market lost one of its most volatile periods in decades last week, with record declines followed by dizzying reversals after Beijing made a series of sweeping promises to stabilize stocks. A rally of two restored the market value to $1.3 trillion in Hong Kong and the mainland, though both markets are still well down this year overall.

While most Chinese employers are encouraging employees to work from home as much as possible given the spread of Covid-19, some workers are complaining about compliance issues, spotty internet connections and other distractions.

China has stuck to a so-called covid-zero policy that isolates it more and more as countries around the world learn to live with variants like omicron.

Other firms in Shanghai that have made contingency plans in case of office closures are CIB Fund Management Co. and ABC-CA Fund Management Co.

Fund managers for ABC-CA are arriving with suitcases full of clothing and work essentials since the company introduced flexible work arrangements last week. The company has provisions such as cots, sleeping bags and personal hygiene products in case of emergencies such as a building closure, according to a statement on its WeChat account.

Ma Yijun, a fund manager for ABC-CA, said he has not left his office since last Thursday and is not sure when he will return home to his family.

original note:

Traders sleep in offices to keep working amid Shanghai lockdowns

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