Is Lunch Hour the New Happy Hour? Majority of American Workers Want to Socialize During Work Hours, According to New ezCater Survey

81% of respondents wish their workplace offered more bonding activities during work hours​​

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Summertime is traditionally jam packed with activities, as people seek to spend more time outdoors, and companies host events for team bonding. But companies may want to hold off on adding another after-work activity to the calendar. New data released today from ezCater, the most trusted provider of corporate food solutions, revealed that 68% — over two-thirds of workers — said they’d prefer socializing with coworkers during their workday, rather than off the clock. ezCater’s survey uncovered how and when employees want to engage with their colleagues and their unfiltered thoughts on post-work events.

According to ezCater’s survey, 81% of employees wish their workplace offered more bonding activities during work hours and the most desired time to socialize with coworkers was lunchtime (32%). With the return of the commute back in most employees’ routines, after-hours work events can take a toll. When asked how attending a work event outside of regular hours impacts respondents, 31% said they were concerned about losing time they want to spend with family, friends or recharging alone. Instead, catered lunch gives employees an opportunity to bond and can be a way to earn their commute.

“We’re observing a major shift in workplace culture. Employees are excited to connect in person, but how and when they want to socialize with each other is changing,” said Diane Swint, Chief Revenue Officer, ezCater. “The takeaway for employers is to invest in team lunches rather than off-site events after work. Not only is it an inclusive way to bring employees together during work hours and create a sense of excitement, it’s also a great way to encourage collaboration. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

Employees feel obligated, not excited, to attend workplace events outside of work hours: Organizations encouraging employee attendance at events outside of traditional work hours may be putting unwanted pressure on employees. Over half of workers (64%) have felt obligated to participate in work events outside the office that they didn’t want to join, and 51% of respondents have lied to skip an after-hour work event or snuck out altogether.

Lunch in the office is a morale boost: Overwhelmingly, free lunch and time to eat with coworkers was the activity employees wished their workplace offered the most during working hours (87%). Less than half of respondents opted for other activities during work, specifically: cooking and cocktail demonstrations (41%), workouts (39%), art projects (36%), and guest speaker series (33%). The survey data also shows employees believe catered meals, daily (46%) or weekly (35%), motivate them to be productive during the summer compared to after-work events.

“Lunch-citement” is a trend in the office: Nearly all workers (94%) feel excited if they know their office provides catered lunch. In fact, employees get so excited that nearly all of them scope out the menu at least one day in advance (92%) when their workplace provides meals. Saving money (63%), the variety of food for lunch (61%) and how lunch gives workers a real break during their workday (59%) contribute to employees’ feelings of excitement over free lunch.

To learn more about the ezCater and see how you can retain top talent and enhance the overall employee experience using food at work, visit


Findings come from data gathered in a survey fielded in March of 2023 from 500 in-person and/or hybrid workers nationwide, analyzing their thoughts on expectations around after-work activities.

About ezCater

ezCater is the most trusted provider of corporate food solutions. With over 100,000 restaurants across the US on its platform, ezCater provides flexible and scalable food solutions for everything from recurring employee meals to one-off events such as sales calls and board meetings. ezCater is purpose-built for food for work and supported by best-in-class customer service, enabling companies to centralize and manage their food spend in a single, customizable platform. To explore corporate food solutions or place a catering order, visit


Jennie Hardin

VP, Communications