The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

Business meals are back with a vengeance, and everyone feels awkward

By Ray A. Smith

02 Aug 2023 · 4 min read

informed Summary

  1. Business lunches and networking events have made a comeback in 2023, with office occupancy rates during the workweek passing 50 per cent for the first time since the pandemic. Lunch reservations on weekdays at restaurants in some big cities rose by double-digit percentages in some months this year compared with 2022.

Business lunches, dinners and networking events, with passed trays of canapés, are back with a vengeance this year. So are the awkward performances that attendees have to put on to endure them.

Jonathan Ruffin, a doctoral candidate in workforce development, was so anxious about attending a dinner to bond with others in his Ph.D. program earlier this year that he lost his appetite.

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