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Cooking, coding and other online classes to support staff

Global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has launched a new initiative to support its Sydney staff during lockdown as part of its commitment to “enhance the culture” of the firm.

user iconLauren Croft 16 August 2021 Big Law
Herbert Smith Freehills lockdown initiative
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HSF has announced a number of initiatives to support its staff through the recent Sydney lockdown, scheduled to last until 28 August at the earliest.

Sydney Connects kicked off last week, in what the firm said was a new initiative to help colleagues connect with each other and share their skills, talents and insights through videos and other online demonstrations.

Danielle Kelly, head of diversity and inclusion at HSF, said that the events had been met with great enthusiasm and excitement from staff so far.


“We are always looking for ways to enhance the culture of our firm and help our people thrive,” she said.

“It is especially important to ensure that our support for people during times of great stress and uncertainty is very practical and takes into account their personal situation, like trying to work with young children at home.”

HSF put a call-out to their staff, inviting them to share any particularly special skills or talents they had with the firm via short, online classes, demonstrations or discussions. Ms Kelly said the response so far had been “fantastic”, with a number of staff volunteering already.

“One of our people has run an online cooking demonstration last Friday evening and we have a host of other sessions coming up including a pilates class run by one of our solicitors, a yoga class run by a member of our IT team, a coding class for beginners run by a solicitor in our digital law group and a kids baking class run by a member of our legal operations team,” she explained.

“The enthusiasm and generosity that our people have in sharing their knowledge and skills is impressive. It’s a testament to the culture of the firm and another example of how our people have come together to support one another during the pandemic.”

Additionally, the firm has run online wellbeing sessions with Rachel Clements from The Centre for Corporate Health.

“Rachel shared her professional insights into how COVID-19 has impacted our wellbeing and helpful strategies for maintaining wellbeing including small, simple changes that can make a big difference – such as scheduling meetings for 20 minutes instead of 30 minutes, or 50 minutes instead of 60 minutes,” Ms Kelly said.

HSF has also brought back a number of their online programs to support their staff who have young children and who are juggling work with online schooling.

“We are running kids’ virtual daily drama workshops with a wonderful NIDA graduate, regular singing and dance-based classes for kids with a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and music and singing classes with a musical theatre professional with a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Monash University,” Ms Kelly said.

“We ran similar sessions for kids during the long Melbourne lockdown last year to rave reviews from our people, and recent feedback has been positive.

“Our people have told us that their kids have loved the singing, dancing and drama sessions, and our parents have appreciated the extra time that the classes have freed up for them to focus on work or personal commitments.

“Not only do these drama and music sessions support parents across our firm, they also present a way for the firm to support the arts community that has been badly impacted by the pandemic.”