New and trendy technology comes and goes almost every day, but the benefits aren’t always quantifiable. But within these emerging technologies, we also find broader trends in areas like communication and even productivity—and those are the trends worth paying attention to. So when we talk about productivity trends here, we’re not just talking about the latest software update that would make this blog post irrelevant within a week’s time. These are larger trends happening in the business world that technology itself is actually catching up with and developing around.

If you feel like your employees aren’t engaged with their work in the way that you want them to be, and you’re seeing productivity slip as a result, try to see how you can reshape your office this week around some of those prominent productivity trends.  

1. Reward-Based Motivators

There’s plenty of evidence out there that the culture of “participation trophies” has chipped away at the value of getting rewarded for hard work. But does that mean we shouldn’t be recognizing and rewarding? Hardly. Rewards, awards, prizes—call them what you will, recognition is a hallmark in today’s most productive offices. In sales, many companies have found that recognizing milestones as they happen rather than handing out performance-based bonuses in the first quarter boosted sales performance throughout the year. It helps people to achieve a fast start, giving them something concrete to work for that provides momentum throughout the year.

As human beings, it’s important that our work is recognized. And it’s not about getting a prize just for showing up: it shows a mutual investment between the employer and employee; that everyone’s got some skin in the game. When employees feel seen and valued, they are much more likely to maximize their productivity. It’s as simple as that.  

The Chat Renaissance

Most of your Millennial employees undoubtedly remember the days of AIM—AOL’s instant messaging platform. You logged in with your carefully chosen “screen name” and probably spent the rest of your afternoon trying to think of clever things to send to your crush. Thankfully, when we talk about a “chat renaissance,” there’s very little crossover between today’s technology behavior and that of the AIM days. But to be fair, much of our habits and interest in this revitalized platform surely is built on the foundation of these predecessors.  

“Chat is becoming the backbone of many businesses, bringing together both people and multiple software programs,”

writes Christopher Mims in his article “Group Chat Emerges As The Hottest Thing In IT” for The Wall Street Journal.

He says it’s not simply the fact that we love chat rooms again, but that they’ve taken on the form of “activity streams” bringing together multiple parts of the business and interactive space into one platform. Take Slack, for example, who’ve revolutionized how teams communicate and collaborate in the workplace. Chat today isn’t simply a nervous one-on-one interaction on a new medium—chat is changing our work habits, our communication style, and even shaking up traditional office dynamics. With the increase in these activity-stream, interactive chat-based platforms, teams are able to communicate in whole new ways.

That, in turn, is helping to spark teams into amazing new levels of productivity. Whether it’s spending less time bogged down in your inbox, or simply spending more time focused on competing head-to-head with other top performers on your team, the so-called chat renaissance is great for your team.  

The Anti-Email Movement

Speaking of spending less time in your inbox: the truth is, email is simply becoming less and less effective as a mode of communication. Think about how much time you’ve spent this week just combing through emails that you never even needed to read.

Now let’s do a thought experiment: If you were to distill your day down to just the absolute essentials, from people you absolutely have to communicate with, to tasks you need to accomplish, and KPIs that you need to deliver on, how many of those things absolutely cannot be done without email? Or, asked another way, could you get through an entire day without using your inbox if you had to?  

  The answer, surprisingly, is yes. In fact, it’s a resounding yes! While it may seem difficult at first to get away from the seemingly essential nature of email, it quickly becomes clear that it’s not as important as it makes itself out to be. Communicating with your team? We just covered that in the world of emerging chat platforms. Creating and sharing documents? There are a plethora of collaborative tools online to share and edit documents as a team in real time. Announcements, leaderboard rankings, and KPI tracking? That can all be done on a gamification platform that your entire office has access to. This, in many ways, is a trend that most millennials have already caught onto. And — it’s actually great for your entire team. We’ve become slaves to a system that was originally designed to make our lives more convenient. Now that the marvel of instant communication has faded into normalcy, is an inbox full of spam really the best way for you to receive all of your most essential daily communications? Was that last email that your boss sent really as useful as she thinks it was?

What ditching your inbox does for you and your team is reorient your priorities. No longer are you spending countless hours during the workweek proofing, drafting, and downloading, when you should be out prospecting, closing and winning. When we take a second to step away from our most comfortable habits, our top priorities become a whole lot more clear, and that’s going to make everyone on your team a whole lot more productive.