You’ve all probably been reading a lot about this lockdown. Some news is probably real… some, maybe not. Lots of wonderfully caring friends (and not-yet-friends) have been asking how we’re doing. So, this provides a snapshot of my personal experience with Shanghai in lockdown – as a CEO and as a wife and mother.

As a people leader, the worst case scenario is getting locked down in the office.

This has happened to other companies, and we didn’t want people separated indefinitely from their families and pets. So, sensing a shift with increased Omicron cases week of March 7, we began encouraging people to work from home. By March 14, we had helped everyone move their tech and everyone was working from home. Felt pretty good.

Soon after, the city initiated a two-phase lockdown, which has not yet let up. More recently, with only 11,000 vetted delivery workers allowed in the streets to serve over 25 million people, food scarcity has become a very serious problem. Not feeling good at all.

So, what’s happening now in lockdown?

Our people, along with everyone in Shanghai, wake up at dawn to try and book groceries, which sell out within seconds. Those living in large compounds have created or joined ad-hoc collectives to bulk-buy direct from suppliers, which yields some success. However, many of our people don’t live in compounds or can’t rally enough neighbors to achieve minimum orders. On the more extreme end, a few of our younger people live in apartments with no kitchen at all. You see, food delivery is so ubiquitous in China, that many young people don’t cook at all. So, even if the government delivers produce to them, which has happened periodically, they are unable to cook the raw materials.

As a heartbreaking result, we have people who’ve gone more than a day without food. Others may have the very basics for themselves but have run out of pet food and are watching their pets go hungry. Many live alone, anxiety growing each day, not knowing when quarantine will be lifted. This is why our Enabling Team (others might refer to them as ‘back office’) has worked tirelessly to try and find a delivery supplier that will bring groceries to all our teams’ individual addresses. Our heads of admin, HR and FIN are heroes in my book.

The eagle has landed!

Thanks to some connections and superhuman perseverance, we were able to buy groceries for every McCann Worldgroup employee! In fact, we are the first 4A agency to do this for our people.

Note to McCann team that came with delivery amidst lockdown
Logistics prohibited a personal note, so we circulated this photo in our company WeChat.

The heroes among us.

Despite the bleak circumstances of Shanghai in lockdown, I’ve witnessed so many moments of humanity among our many of our team members. I honestly couldn’t be prouder of our people.

Our McCann Director, Travis, was completely hoarse on Monday morning, as he had spent all weekend trying to help his elderly neighbors with group orders. He’s one of many McCann business leaders who are stepping up to lead in their communities – it’s absolutely inspiring!

Hearing about those living without kitchens, our CFO personally bought and sent individual packages to those living in the direst circumstances last week. Our head of HR hosted a live Teams meditation session and our CCO led everyone through a grueling workout to keep spirits up.

McCann fitness challenge during lockdown

Though Shanghai is in lockdown and food scarcity is a real issue, we’re taking care of each other. Checking up on each other, sharing recipes for whatever ingredients we have on hand, and even meeting each other’s pets.

McCann pet meeting during lockdown

After all, what is a crisis?

The Chinese word for “crisis” is 危机, where 危 means “danger” and 机 can be translated as “opportunity”. Our team of passionate and creative McCanners will face today’s challenges head on, seizing every opportunity to contribute and support one another. We deeply appreciate the support of Ghassan and our global leaders.

Click here for more on the Chinese word for crisis.

As a mother, I need to curate a sense of security for Laini.

She should know there is a real issue, and that people are going hungry. My daughter is also aware that we don’t have an end date in sight, which adds to the uncertainty. And yet, Laini also knows her parents will take care of her, and that we have enough. In fact, our family has more than enough.

When we get pulled out of bed at midnight to do a COVID test, just hours after having done another one, we don’t complain. Rather, we use the time in line to meet neighbors and thank the service workers. Because when we know she’s watching, we become our best selves.

Midnight COVID testing during lockdown

We try unusual recipes, depending on what we have on hand. We laugh while dad tries to identify mystery vegetables and how to cook them. Then, when a bulk order of noodles comes in, we take the opportunity to take a family portrait! This is my priority: making the most of our time together and knitting our family unit closer in joy and unity.

A little family fun during lockdown

Focusing on gratitude.

It can be easy to spiral right now. There’s a lot of negative news and social media vibrates with anxiety and anger. Laini found me in tears one evening, when I was simply broken over my people not having enough food. But whether at work or with my family, I think the key is to focus on gratitude. I’m so grateful for this job, where I have the opportunity to serve our incredible people. I’m grateful that our family has enough, and that we have healthy relationships. Once re-centered in gratitude, we can redirect our energy to those who don’t have enough, or are living alone, or with someone they fear. Then, we shift our mindset to how we can help. And I think that’s how we stay uplifted and bring others along.

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