‘Disruptive’: Nike CEO John Donahoe blasted over working from home claim

The boss of Nike has blamed staff working from home for failing to come up with exciting new designs that wow shoppers.

CEO John Donahoe says a sales slide was mostly down to the creative malaise, The Sun reports.

He said: “It turns out, it’s really hard to do bold, disruptive innovation, to develop a boldly disruptive shoe on Zoom.”

“What’s been missing is the kind of bold, disruptive innovation that Nike’s known for and when we look back, the reasons are fairly straightforward.”

His comments come as Adidas has been stealing its market share while newer brands, such as On Running and Hoka, are already nibbling at Nike’s heels.

The boss of JD Sports, Regis Schultz, last month blamed Nike’s lack of product innovation for weaker sales.

As creative staff worked from home for two and half years, the brand — slogan Just Do It — had been relying on its familiar swoosh symbol on its Air Max, Dunks and Air Force Ones.

But Nike ordered staff back into the office 18 months ago.

Mr Donahoe, 63, believes that had reinvigorated the brand, saying: “We have been ruthlessly focused on rebuilding our disruptive innovation pipeline.”

The CEO’s comments have been met with backlash online, with many claiming he is choosing to blame remote work instead of figuring out ways to adapt to different working environments.

“Yet another CEO who instead of taking responsibility for driving that innovation and adapting to remote work, blames it instead. It’s clear that managers need to stop micromanaging and let employees work however they’re comfortable,” one person said.

Another claimed that his comments were a major “red flag”, while others claimed he was using remote work as a “scapegoat”.

“Sure, work from home is the problem. It’s not the CEO & just plain running out of ideas & recycling stuff,” one wrote on X.

Another added: “These CEOs always blame workers. It’s never about them or how they run their companies. Always pointing fingers at people for their failure.”

He is the latest boss to back-pedal on the shift to home working. Big banks, such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, have been vocal critics.

Even Zoom, which provided the video technology to work from home, called staff back to work because it was easier to solve issues and innovate when people were “in the same room”.

Elon Musk banned working from home after taking over Twitter, now X, while Amazon said staff working from home would miss out on promotions.

Boots last month ordered staff back to the office five days a week, declaring it a “more fun and inspiring place” when it was fully attended.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.