How to Boost Your Motivation at Work by Making Changes to Your Surroundings

If you’ve been finding it hard to stay motivated at work – or if you simply want to motivate yourself more at the office – take a good look at your surroundings.

Does it make you want to work harder? Or does it zap your energy and make your work seem like a chore?

It may not seem obvious, but the quality of your surroundings affects your level of motivation and productivity. Most people think that motivation relies solely on our internal psychologies – and for the most part, they do. But not many realise that we’re also affected by our surroundings and environment, making us feel better (or worse) about doing our work.

To understand why let’s take a quick look at how motivation works and what affects it.

Stimuli, Dopamine, and Motivation

In the simplest terms, we feel motivated when a stimulus causes our body to release dopamine that reaches the parts of our brains involved with our reward behaviours (specifically the nucleus accumbens).

Most people associate dopamine purely with pleasure and happiness, but they actually play a more sophisticated role than that. When dopamine hits the nucleus accumbens, our brains anticipate whether something that’s about to happen will be good or bad. This anticipation will then spur us to act – a.k.a. be motivated – to either amplify the good or minimise the bad.

The question then is: How do you get more dopamine that makes you feel more motivated?

The answer, in most cases, lies in manipulating your stimuli.

Using Stimuli to Increase Motivation

Stimuli can be either internal or external, so you have plenty to work with when trying to boost your motivation at work.

Internal stimuli include any stimulus that comes from within, including your personal beliefs, natural curiosities and desire for self-expression. External stimuli, on the other hand, comes from outside of you, whether it’s your boss, your workload, or your workplace.

Among these stimuli, the easiest to change and manipulate is your surroundings (i.e. office). (After all, it’s easier to change your surroundings than it is to change your core beliefs – or perhaps even harder, your boss.)

The more you create a workplace designed for productivity, the more motivated and your team can become.

Tips for Optimising Your Surroundings for Motivation and Productivity


Every person is different, so there’s no cut-and-dry solution for increasing productivity in YOUR office space. With that said, you can try different strategies that have proven to work for countless people:

  • A cluttered desk – or worse, a cluttered office – is not only unattractive, but it also makes thinking clearly more difficult. Try this: Imagine the desk or workspace of the messiest person you know. Now picture an immaculately clean and organised work table. Did you feel the difference? A clutter-free workspace improves workflow and creates a greater sense of possibility, both of which can make you want to work harder.
  • Decorate Your Space. We all need a little push every now and then, especially when the work gets tough. Decorating your workspace with photos, quotes and any other material that you find uplifting can provide the right stimulus to boost your motivation and productivity.
  • Get Natural Light. If possible, get more natural light into your workspace by opening windows or blinds and letting some sun in. Sunlight can naturally boost your energy levels and stimulate your senses, making you feel healthier and more alive. In fact, a recent survey in the US showed that natural light is the top perk that employees look for in an office.

Where You Work Affects How You Work

plant in workspace

When it comes to office motivation and productivity, there’s no question that your work environment matters – and often much more than you think. Whether you work in an office, a retail space, or a warehouse, the quality of your surroundings will directly influence your motivation and productivity.

If you feel that your work environment needs a drastic change, then don’t be afraid to consider investing in a full office fitout tailored to your needs. A professional office fitout can transform your workspace completely, providing the right furniture and equipment to boost productivity and improve your team’s workflow.

Whatever solution you choose, remember that your immediate environment will always affect your motivation, behaviours, and habits. So the next time you feel unmotivated or discouraged at work, look around and see what changes you can make.