Remote working is a fact of life even in the relationship-driven private equity industry, according to a recent survey by Adams Street, but workers are expected to return to in-person work within the year. The survey shows the industry’s mixed opinions on a topic that’s drawn numerous takes. KPS Capital Partners co-founder Michael Psaros made headlines for saying that PE is an apprenticeship and relationship driven business late last year, and the debate appears to rage on even as mask mandates recede.

Private market participants paint something of a two-sided narrative about their in-house workplace cultures and their adaptations to the pandemic. On the one hand, over 80 percent of respondents agree that online meetings are more efficient, that international travel will be used less often in the future, and that hybrid or flexible work arrangements will become the norm. On the other, over three quarters of those polled expect in-person office attendance to return to pre-pandemic levels this year.

How to square the circle? Perhaps industry participants envision a hybrid work model in which most employees are in the office most of the time, but have a day or two of time working from home or the road?

Reconciling the points may also be a matter of sequencing. Expensive meetings with uncertain returns like introductory conversations with a management team or founder considering a sale might be consigned to the realm of virtual meetings in the world after Covid, while transactions closer to signing a deal could still require a personal touch.

Look to the upcoming spring to resolve such tensions as infection rates trend lower and dealmaking queues continue to require hours of labor to clear.

Brandon Zero