Wayfair CEO calls for long hours and work-life integration

Achieving success in a competitive business landscape requires hard work, fiscal responsibility, and unity, says CEO Niraj Shah.
By: | December 26, 2023

In an end-of-year message to the 15,000-strong workforce at Wayfair, an online furniture retailer, CEO Niraj Shah urged employees to embrace hard work and integrate their professional and personal lives for a more fulfilling career experience.

“Winning requires hard work. I believe that most of us, being ambitious individuals, find fulfilment in the joy of seeing our efforts materialise into tangible results,” Shah said in the note. “Working long hours, being responsive, blending work and life, is not anything to shy away from. There is not a lot of history of laziness being rewarded with success.”

Shah further encouraged Wayfair employees to approach company expenses with a mindset akin to personal spending, urging them to negotiate prices and consider the value of each transaction.

The retailer faced challenges in 2022 as consumer behaviour shifted from online home goods shopping to in-person experiences, leading to a 5% reduction in the workforce. However, Shah assured employees in his recent communication that the company has successfully returned to profitability, reported CNN.

“Together we can win much faster than we are winning now if we all row in this direction together,” he said. “Let’s be aggressive, pragmatic, frugal, agile, customer-oriented, and smart.” 

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Despite the motivational tone, some experts, including Nicholas Bloom, a Professor of Economics at Stanford University, expressed reservations. Bloom highlighted the potential challenges of sustaining a business model that demands an 80-hour workweek without significant compensation increases.

“If Wayfair wants people to work 80 hours a week, he’s going to have to put up their salaries by 50% to pay them for it,” Bloom cautioned, noting the current strength of the job market and the numerous options available to employees.