The Debrett's guide to lockdown etiquette

The Debrett’s guide to lockdown etiquette: Experts reveal why you should stand up on Zoom calls and always give way when you’re jogging

  • British etiquette bible Debrett’s has published lockdown advice online 
  • Includes tips on how to behave while out for a run and on Zoom business calls 
  • Addresses the difficulties of communicating with employees over email
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The coronavirus lockdown has brought with it a slew of social rules that are frequently changing and difficult to navigate, which is why Debrett’s has published a series of handy guides for the socially-conscious keen not to put a foot wrong. 

The British etiquette bible has published online advice covering topics including exercising outdoors, managing employees and conducting oneself in a professional manner over video conference calls. 

Debrett’s has also weighed in on how best to keep the peace at home, whether you are living with a flatmate, family or a partner. 

The articles are available to read online but FEMAIL shares some of the highlights below. 


Exercise (with) caution: Debrett’s stressed that it is your responsibility if you are running or cycling to ensure you leave others with enough space to pass you comfortably. Stock image

Make way for others

Confused about who has right of way? Avoid the game of chicken before one of you eventually steps into the road by being the first to move aside (assuming no oncoming traffic, of course). Particular consideration should be shown to wheelchair users, the elderly or infirm, and those with buggies or small children.

Exercise (with) caution

If you’re out jogging or cycling, it will be harder for others to get out of your way in time. The onus is on you to ensure you’re allowing them enough space. Alternatively, save your exercise hour for the early morning or evening when it’s likely to be quieter. 

Don’t forget to smile 

It’s an anxious time, and as we all become less accustomed to venturing outside, we might feel inclined to avoid eye contact and stare at the pavement. Spread a little positivity by smiling (or, if you’re wearing a mask, nodding hello) to those you pass – from a suitably safe distance, of course.


Act the part: Body language and eyeline are important to consider on video calls. Stock image

Adapt your body language 


Be visible and available

Mr Wesson said: ‘Things are tricky right now, but you can help everyone by talking honestly and openly. Take time to talk about how the business is responding, and address individuals’ concerns on a personal level where possible.’ 

Be careful how you communicate

‘While it’s no longer possible to speak to team members in person, be wary of relying on email if you’re having to discuss a sensitive issue or deliver constructive criticism. Email can be a blunt instrument when it comes to expressing anything difficult or contentious, so schedule a call instead. You can always follow up by email if you need written confirmation of what has been discussed.’

Debrett’s Academy director Rupert Wesson said: ‘Remain animated but not manically so – it’s best to keep physical gestures subtle but confident, and hands relaxed. If you’re seated, sit up straight but don’t be too rigid. Standing is arguably easier for feeling at ease – just don’t wander off camera. 

Pay attention to your eyeline 

Mr Wesson said: ‘If seeing your own image on screen makes you self-conscious, keep it out of your eyeline and concentrate on your audience instead. It might help to imagine that they are directly in front of you, rather than focusing on a screen full of faces.’

Angles are important

Jonny Pollard, of, said: ‘If your camera is below your eye line, it will not be flattering. Use a box or anything available to raise the screen so the webcam is level with your hair line. Centre yourself in the image, and distance yourself from the camera so you can see from the top of your head down to your chest. A shot with just your head can be too intense for your audience.’ 


Do not monopolise the communal space 

Debrett’s senior business development manager Dan Scothern said: ‘Dominating communal spaces or monopolising particular items (such as the TV or phone) is likely to chip away at any healthy household dynamics. 

‘If more than one of you are working from home, it’s best to assign individual workspaces and perhaps implement additional measures so that the house can operate as normally as possible.’ 

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