The New Normal refers to the landscape that’s emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has rapidly changed the way that people around the globe live and work. As a result, businesses and customers alike are now living in a challenging and transformative climate.

When the crisis led to lockdown measures, brick-and-mortar shops had to close their doors. Suddenly, these businesses needed to find new ways to connect with their customers. And some of them didn’t have experience with shopping on digital channels. 

The New Normal has led to a flood of nascent digital adopters. It forced businesses to implement a number of innovative solutions, strategies, and technologies that will continue to shape our world well into the future. For some businesses the New Normal was the end of the road. For others, it’s just the beginning.

 

What’s new about the New Normal?

It’s hard to encapsulate the disruptive impact of COVID-19 on business. Some industries that were hit particularly hard include retail, hospitality, travel, and transportation. Many businesses that had to shut down will not be able to reopen. And the ones that are opening their doors again must adhere to their country’s health and safety regulations. 

These regulations have presented difficulties for a large number of organisations, especially SMEs. According to the 4th edition of Salesforce’s SME Trends Report, 65% of SME leaders say that local mandates to close or limit operations are threatening the viability of the business. Moreover, 59% say that public health mandates are creating an excessive burden. 

Complying with new regulations and standards will be the first order of business for many companies. They’ll also have to deal with new ways of working and customer expectations.

Here are a few of the things that have changed in the New Normal:
 

The workforce is untethered

Global lockdown measures forced businesses to move beyond the physical boundaries of the office. And employees transitioned to working from kitchens and bedrooms around the world. 

Many businesses have found success in having an agile workforce that’s equipped to work whenever and wherever they’re needed. The future of work looks to be increasingly decentralised. This is one change that should definitely stick into the Next Normal and beyond.
 

Customer expectations have risen

Customers who once shopped at physical stores have now stepped into an exciting digital world. Everything’s always in stock, convenient delivery options abound, and personal customer service is available 24/7. Online channels have raised the bar for customer experience in the New Normal. And traditional businesses are evolving to keep up. 

Some retailers have connected their channels by: 

  • Using online platforms as agile stockists and delivery arms,

  • Utilising physical shops as showrooms and providers of unique experiences. 


Creating this exciting synergy between channels, to optimise the customer experience, is a hallmark of the New Normal.
 

Virtual experiences are set to be the next big thing

In a world where virtual engagement has replaced in-person contact, AR and VR experiences promise to take us to new frontiers. Before the crisis, these kinds of experiences were often mesmerising but rarely practical. But everything is different in the New Normal. 

Prepare for a world where businesses can insert their products and services into video games and interactive experiences. Virtual malls like this one in New Zealand can carry consumers back to the glory days of mask-free shopping and more.
 

Digital transformation has accelerated

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the concerning technological gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in a big way. Companies that have already undergone digital transformation have been able to pivot and better meet their customers’ needs, while those still stuck in an analogue world have to navigate the cobwebs of darkened storefronts and locked offices. 

Many companies already had digital transformation at the top of their agenda, but the crisis has accelerated that agenda in unforeseeable ways. The business world is flooring it towards a digital horizon, so for companies that have yet to unleash the power of these solutions, the time to act is now.
 

Agility is the top prize

When the crisis hit, the companies that thrived were the companies that could easily pivot to address new challenges and priorities. Robust technology and forward-thinking strategies enabled many companies to shift quickly. But there’s also another concern at play – people. 

New challenges require new skills, and the companies that succeed in the New Normal will be the ones that can optimise their workforces. Imagine a workforce that’s highly trained across a variety of disciplines; that’s able to tackle challenges at a moment’s notice, and can automate routine tasks in order to use their time for more important things. 

A workforce that can work from anywhere, at any time, with everything they need right in their pocket – that’s the workforce of the New Normal. But changing people surely isn’t as easy as changing strategies or technologies. So where can today’s businesses start?

 

Blaze a trail to skill up for the New Normal

A recent Salesforce study found that 70% of respondents believe that COVID-19 has permanently changed their work, and 60% say that they need a more up-to-date skill set. We’re at an inflection point; we need new skills and strategies to tackle the challenges of the New Normal. But most workers are still firmly planted in the old world.

With this in mind, we are proud to welcome workforces to Trailhead. This is our democratic learning platform where everyone can learn in-demand skills, earn credentials, and position themselves to take advantage of emerging opportunities. 

In fact, according to a recent study, 50% of Trailblazers say that Trailhead has helped them earn a promotion or get a raise. And one out of three Trailblazers stated that skills learned on Trailhead helped them land a new job.

Here are some of the things waiting for you on Trailhead:

  • Go on on-demand learning journeys from your laptop

  • Skill-up from anywhere by using the Trailhead on-the-go app

  • Take a seat in a virtual classroom to learn from thought-leaders and industry titans from around the world

  • Join the Trailblazer community to connect with 2.5 million other Trailblazers and go on a journey together. You can share stories with peers and hear insights from experts, meaning that inspiration is always just a click away.
     

Like many things in the New Normal, Trailhead is constantly evolving to keep up with the times. The trails that you blaze today will lead on to new ones, as you draw a map through the New Normal and beyond. 

 

New tools for a new world: How Trailhead is evolving

Trailhead is always updating their learning journeys to reflect current demand. For instance, Trailhead now offers a contact-tracing trail to help online learners skill-up on this increasingly important process. 

They’ve also introduced Trailhead Virtual Bootcamp for admins, platform developers, and platform app builders. We’re in a climate when creating apps and leveraging digital solutions can be the difference between delivering for the customers and getting left out in the cold. Virtual Bootcamp will be a game-changer for many organisations.

But Trailhead’s evolution doesn’t end there. In order to meet the needs of the new on-the-go workforce, Trailhead is going mobile and taking its users with it.
 

Welcome to Trailhead GO

The Trailhead Go app for Android and iOS enables users to learn new skills from anywhere, at any time. So don’t cancel that trip to the coast just because you have to brush up on your marketing strategy or coding skills. Simply bring your phone and follow a learning trail from the beaches to the boardroom. 
 

Introducing job listings

Trailhead now offers job listings, showing users relevant, location-based jobs that match their skill set. As the post-pandemic landscape continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Trailhead helps users stay relevant and connects them with new career opportunities.

 

Where will your trail lead in the New Normal?

The challenges of navigating the New Normal are loud and clear. But behind that bullhorn of uncertainty is the clarion call of opportunity. Businesses must leverage innovative technologies, empower their workforces with new skills, and find creative ways to deliver exceptional experiences for their customers. They’ll do more than survive – they’ll thrive. 

To see more about how Trailhead can help workers prepare for the New Normal — as well as see a demo of Trailhead in action — check out Salesforce’s webinar.


Find tools and resources for creating a safer workplace after COVID-19, visit Work.com.