I was reminded recently of the apocryphal tale of some American tourists asking why Windsor Castle was built so close to Heathrow Airport – by my son suggesting that evolution dictated that humans need to sleep, just so as to have time to charge our phones.

About five years ago I became genuinely concerned that I was beginning to lose my marbles. I couldn’t remember things – where I’d left things, or recall certain words – nothing major, just incidents repeated too often to be comfortable. I confided in a forthright fellow who is both client and friend, over a glass of something nice at that year’s AIM dinner, and he looked at me like it was obvious and I was an idiot – “it’s sleep of course. You’re not sleeping enough”.

Camaraderie aside (which is very important, mind you), there really is nothing I miss about the office apart from the fact that the book I was reading, “Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams”, forlorn on my desk. It is a heavy dose of common sense for the way we live now – sleep deprived and unaware of the consequences, which genuinely are fatal; and stumbling through a perpetual mental twilight that denies us our health, happiness and humour.

The upside to lockdown is sleep – I am going to bed at the same time but getting up an hour later, and suddenly I am, apparently, a much nicer person to be around, and while I still feel aged, even my (disarmingly honest) daughter has said I “look less crumpled”. Commuting, and stock exchange hours, are awful. We all knew that.

But how might life change once we emerge blinking into a post COVID-19 world? We’ve already discussed video calls; rural broadband; TV anywhere; these are current needs. What inevitable changes will now be accelerated?

We expect the main response will be to outsource the hell out of everything non-core, making every fixed cost variable. All software that isn’t SaaS will be cloud-based, and ‘now’, not ‘eventually’. Enterprise dashboards are a must have; spreadsheets are dead, the user experience and breadth of visibility is king. Change must be constant, and measured (Sopheon); compliance must be automated and pervasive throughout an enterprise (Ideagen); and use a single data lake for multiple views, not multiple databases (D4t4 and KRM22, for capital markets); Low-code can avoid the cost of throwing out old systems with a new front end combining and enhancing the functionality and effectiveness of older systems (Netcall); and spend must be centrally and digitally controlled for disparately administered enterprise (Proactis, which can also ease SME working capital crunches through accelerated invoice payments). PCI-Pal offers a cloud-based AWS-based solution for payment security.

Nothing should be sacrosanct – even property. Staff will need a shiny HQ in which to meet clients and each other (face-to-face meetings and team spirit are irreplaceable) – but why would an SME now ever take a long-term lease? Flexible working was already picking up – and now will, even more, become standard. While the poster child is WeWork, there are many more besides, and many more to come, including the biggest name landlords doing it themselves – and overcoming the combination of two historically slow and crusty industries (property and telcos), Essensys have recently shown that the efficient provision of tech to flexible workspace can deliver strong growth, and recurring revenue, and provide the outsourcing tenant with the tech fundamentals that the property manager can’t. Definitely worth a look, with a quick shoring up of the balance sheet positioning them well to survive and prosper.

So enjoy your longer sleep while you don’t have to commute. Please read the book – put down Instagram and Facebook, no one is really too busy to read, and you know you’ve got more time now you’re not commuting. If that fails read it on the train when we have to go back to Town. I really do believe you will thank me.

Happy Friday