It has been nearly two years since corporate America reopened, and employers are still struggling to get people back into the office. Just ask Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, who has been pushing for in-office-work, yet 30% of his workers remain hybrid and he continues to face pushback.

So allow me to make a modest proposal. This fall, to get people back to the office, US employers need to do something radical, something bold, something (gasp) very French: They need to buy their employees lunch — a proper lunch, in a restaurant.

There are no sad desk salads in France. Eating in the workplace is prohibited. Since 1962, French employees have received meal vouchers as part of their compensation. The vouchers used to be paper tickets, but now they are usually loaded on to a plastic card, which can be used to buy lunch at local restaurants. Both employers and employees contribute to the card — the former tax-free — with employers paying 50% to 60% of the lunch’s value.

The voucher can be used for a meal up to 19 euros, though that limit was doubled during the pandemic to help struggling restaurants. The number of meals an employee gets each month depends on the number of days he or she works; one meal voucher can be provided for each full workday, provided the meal occurs during the workday.

Like most efficiency-focused Americans, I always looked upon this system with a mixture of amusement and horror. I saw it as the sort of thing that can only happen in France. A law against eating at your desk? Talk about uncivilized. I prefer a quick lunch, thank you, so I can finish work and get home sooner. And as nice as a free lunch sounds, benefits are never really free; they usually mean a lower salary. Once again, thank you but I’d prefer the cash.

But I am rethinking my aversion to the French lunch voucher system because I fear the US workplace is stuck in what we economists call a sub-optimal equilibrium. Working together, in person, is important for training and workplace culture — especially for younger workers who require mentoring. Over time, working from home even a few days a week can mean lower productivity and less engagement with work.

I also worry about what working from home does to a society that is increasingly isolated and lonely. Not to mention all the struggling businesses in America’s downtowns. Foot traffic in downtown San Francisco is at only 32% of its 2019 level. New York is at 67%. Office vacancies remain elevated. Despite pleas and even threats from their bosses — many of whom are also WFH, at least part of the time — or free food in the office pantry, not enough people are going back.

So what if there were such a thing as a free lunch — not metaphorical but actual?  A lunch that lasts an hour (maybe more) may be just the incentive you need. Especially at a nice restaurant in the middle of the day. It makes you feel so sophisticated. More important, it will involve making plans to get you out of the house. And while you shouldn’t be required to eat with your colleagues, maybe you will want to, which will improve morale and help restore the connections lost in the years of working from home. Perhaps you will even invite your junior coworkers.

True, there may be some productivity losses. Some people will take lunch breaks that are too long, especially if wine is involved. But working from home indefinitely might mean even more lost productivity. And any losses from lunch should be measured against the economic boost it would provide the restaurant sector.

The voucher system should be a little different than it is in France. Employee contributions to the voucher should be optional. And the vouchers should only be used in restaurants located in business districts, or near the workplace, for a sit-down meal. The tax incentive would be a nice bonus, but it’s not necessary, especially with growing public debt. Instead, participating restaurants may offer discounts or voucher-lunch specials if they want the business.

I realize this is all getting expensive. So employers needn’t offer a free lunch for every day worked. This is America, after all. It is your right as a citizen to eat at your desk.

Allison Schrager is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering economics. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, she is author of “An Economist Walks Into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk.”