Now the standard procedure for fine dining is to wait for everyone to finish eating before you begin to clear the dirty plates away off the table. But as most often the case in fine dining you have a busser or someone else to help you clear off those big tables. That busser or food runner may also at this point be able to take the dessert order and serve coffee afterwards to free you up to take care of other tables that may have been just seated.
But nowadays the waiter is usually the one on their own when having to clear a big table. They are also responsible for just about everything else excluding resetting the table for the next guest to be seated. At least where I work the busser does that part. Even then in some places the waiter may not even have a busser to do that so they have to clear , change the tablecloth , reset putting the side plates , cutlery , wine glasses , napkins etc so that the table is ready for the next group of people to come in.
On top of that I have worked in some really nice places that required me to do the bartending as well.
So any way I could I would be trying to stay ahead of the game. On a table of more than 4 people I would start clearing when just about everyone was finished. In other words if let's say 4 out of 6 were done and their plates off to the side I would start clearing so that by the time I cleared theirs' the other 2 would be putting their cutlery down and done with dinner. On real big tables I would just start clearing when I saw half were done. On a 12 for instance. Because if you ask for help there will be a strong chance everyone else would be busy doing the same thing. So why bother asking. Just start clearing.
What I have noticed is people really don't care what the rules are. In fact , even on deuces I have had one person who will be eating and the finished person will ask for the dessert menu handing me their finished plate at the same time. This shows no consideration at all.
I can only think of really high end places I have worked where the Maitre'd would tackle you if you started to clear before the complete table was finished. Those places are few and far between though and cater to a guest that is used to eating slow and enjoying a nice bottle of wine and is there for the evening. They are paying top dollar.
As for most places though it is eat and run and out in less than an hour. So clearing early and getting them onto dessert and out the door is expected not only of management because of the wait but also of the guest who is used to getting everything done pronto.
So my question to you is what is the policy where you work? Do you wait till everyone is finished eating before clearing or do you start clearing beforehand to save yourself some time or because the guest might expect it?
Your answer will tell me what kind of dining room you work in.