‘Don’t be a table eater’: Debrett’s trouble guide to working in a cafe | Work & careers

Always wear headphones when watching a video, be careful not to be a “table eater”, and never look askance at a crying baby.

These are the cardinal rules of working in a café, according to Debrett’s etiquette bible.

The 253-year-old British institution, which once advised women to avoid using ‘vulgarism, casualness, rudeness, triviality or provocation’, has turned its attention to the modern trend of working in public spaces .

In a new guide called Cafe Rules for Digital Nomads, Liz Wyse, Debrett’s etiquette advisor, explains when it’s appropriate to video call in a cafe (never) and how often to order food or coffee (at regular intervals).

“Cafés need turnover to make a profit, so you shouldn’t become a table eater, nursing a single cup of coffee while other customers come and go,” the official advice intones.

Workers should remember that cafes are a place where people can socialize and chat, so don’t look at them if you find the noise disturbing: “You should never look askance at your close neighbors because their lively conversation or crying of their baby interfere with your concentration. It’s your problem, not theirs.

Founded in 1769, Debrett’s began as a guide to the British aristocracy, but branched out in the mid-1900s to become the unofficial rulebook of “British style, correct form, modern manners”.

The rise of hybrid working during the pandemic has had a mixed reaction among café owners. Many welcomed the extra custom, but others banned laptops after 5 p.m. and complained that workers were hogging tables without buying many drinks.

Last month Costa Coffee launched a limited trial of soundproof booths with charging stations at a number of its stores for customers willing to pay £13 an hour.

The trial, in partnership with My Work Booth, is taking place in two stores in Manchester and two in London but will be extended in the coming weeks.

For those who have no choice but to work amidst the din and din of a bustling cafe, Debrett’s has the last word.

“You should avoid video calls or conference calls when working in a coffee shop because you won’t look professional,” Wyse said. “You don’t want your colleagues or clients to feel like you’re flippant about your work commitments.

“If circumstances arise where you have no choice and must participate in a video call, explain where you are and apologize for your background. When you are not speaking, remember to mute the sound, otherwise you’ll be deafening your colleagues with slamming coffee cups and chattering customers.

About Walter Bartholomew

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