Imagine walking into work – from your car to your desk – all without touching a single surface.
It could become the new normal amid an ongoing global pandemic. And Lenovo, one of the Triangle’s biggest employers, wants to monetize that future with a new business unit, to be headquartered in the region.
Tuesday, the Chinese computer maker announced it would be basing what it’s calling the “Think IoT Return to Work Solutions” business at its Triangle operation.
While the unit has been in the works since before the novel coronavirus changed the way many technology firms operated, John Gordon, Lenovo’s president of Commercial Internet of Things, admits it’s fortuitous timing. Gordon, who relocated from Boston to Research Triangle Park to launch the new division, calls it the next logical step for a “great products company,” one that will enable Lenovo to provide “end-to-end solutions” that could keep employees safer.
The unit will start off with less than 100 employees globally. Gordon wouldn’t say how many of those employees will be in the Triangle, but he does say several Lenovo employees have relocated to the region to help build the business. And the unit is hiring, with the potential to reinstate some employees that have been laid off at various technology companies in the Triangle since the pandemic hit, including at Lenovo.
Gordon envisions the unit spearheading what he calls the new way of working.
“[Employees] walk into the building, they can get into the front door without each touching the front door,” he said.
With the help of vendors such as Viper, the company aims to market ways to alleviate back-to-work concerns. Rich Shannon, the Charlotte-based co-founder of Viper, said his firm has developed thermal technology that can detect employees with fevers before they enter the office.
And that’s just one of the solutions adding up to what Gordon hopes will be a “one-stop shop” for companies.
Gordon points to a recent Lenovo survey that revealed 90 percent of U.S. employees said it’s important to use technology to increase safety in the workplace.
The unit could be good news for the Triangle, where Lenovo, like many companies, has been forced to make some difficult decisions in recent weeks.
Gordon couldn’t comment on recent layoffs, but said the new division’s location in the Triangle was further evidence of the company’s commitment to North Carolina.
Lenovo entered the Triangle with its acquisition of IBM’s PC division back in 2005. The firm doubled down on Big Blue a decade later with its purchase of IBM’s server business. Lenovo kept the headquarters for both business lines in the Triangle.
Original Post By: Triangle Business Journal