Pandemic Expenses Index

How Employers Are Keeping Their Teams Engaged Throughout the Lockdown

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When work-from-home orders began sweeping across the UK and Europe early in 2020, they upended our daily lives in more ways than one, and for non-essential workers, it changed how we work and communicate with our coworkers while working remotely.

Although working remotely has had plenty of drawbacks, it has also shed new light on how employers can and should invest in keeping employees engaged and connected while at home. At Soldo, we decided to take a closer look at how various industries stacked up against each other with employee expenses throughout the pandemic. We grouped the expenses into 10 different categories and uncovered the most popular ones, as well as the top brands employees favour in each category.

Expense Categories included in the study:

  • Caffeinated – refers to caffeine consumption, including on-site and takeaway orders from the main coffee chains such as Starbucks, Pret A Manger and Costa coffee.
  • Connected – refers to connectivity and communications services such as Zoom and Slack, or greeting cards from retailers like Moonpig.
  • Educated – refers to professional development and continued education services such as online courses and webinars.
  • Entertained – refers to expenses meant to treat employees and keep them entertained, such as Netflix and Spotify.
  • Fed – refers to takeaway food expenses during the pandemic, such as orders from McDonalds and Just Eat.
  • On the Road – refers to transportation expenses such as petrol, taxi and mini-cab services, and train tickets.
  • Stocked Up – refers to home delivery expenses such as Amazon and Tesco.
  • Equipped – refers to home shopping expenses to help employees meet their home office needs, from brands such as Ikea and Homebase.
  • Pampered – refers to wellness expenses, such as clothes or beauty and self-care products from retailers like Zara, KIKO, TK Maxx and H&M.
  • Fit – refers to health and fitness expenses throughout the pandemic, such as virtual gym classes or equipment from SportsDirect.

Soldo’s 2020 Pandemic expenses Index:

This interactive tool helps you to better understand how professional expenses have shifted throughout the pandemic. Select your industry to find out how different expense categories rank.

Employees can use the tool to see how various industries took care of their employees’ expenses and where they invested most, and to draw conclusions about the most important benefits and perks for employees, according to how they use their virtual cards to shop for work expenses.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • The IT, media, and healthcare industries claim the most overall expenses, nearly one-third of all expenses during the pandemic, indicating the largest investment in employees, and potentially the highest likelihood for retention.
  • To make up for the office snacks and coffee that workers are used to, employees invested heavily in keeping their teams fed and caffeinated while working remotely (35.5% of total expenses), opting for brands and services like Starbucks, Pret a Manager, JustEat, and Deliveroo most often.
  • Despite many companies touting fringe benefits like monthly gym memberships, keeping employees fit throughout the pandemic only accounted for less than 1% of the total expenses.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, the public sector’s expenses on employees only account for less than 3.5% of all of Soldo’s transactions. Keeping them fed and stocked up was the biggest priority, according to the data.
  • Teachers, the unsung heroes of the pandemic, and those working in the education sector claimed 3.6% of expenses during the pandemic.
  • Employers invested heavily in keeping remote teams engaged and connected throughout the pandemic, with services like Zoom and Slack accounting for 4% of all expenses claimed.
  • Keeping employees ‘Stocked Up’ was the most expensed category throughout the pandemic (34% of all transactions), indicating that employees value being able to stock up on home office snacks and expenses from Amazon and Tesco over other categories.


To create the Pandemic Expenses Index, we analysed internal Soldo business banking data from January-November 2020. We then divided these transactions into 10 expense categories: Caffeinated, Connected, Educated, Entertained, Fed, On the Road, Stocked Up, Equipped, Pampered, and Fit.

We analysed a total of 419,678 transactions across 26 main industries:

  • Apparel – refers to the clothing and garment industry. This includes fashion retailers and clothes manufacturers.
  • Charities – refers to charitable non-profit organisations, which aim to improve the social well-being of their target group. This industry includes volunteering.
  • Chemicals – refers to companies that produce industrial chemicals from raw materials such as oil, minerals, and natural gas.
  • Communications – refers to businesses that convey messaging from one place to another, for example by using a software. These can be internal messaging platforms that help people to work from home.
  • Construction – refers to companies that are responsible for building infrastructures to ensure the smooth running of a society. This includes anything built, from housing to roads.
  • Consulting –  refers to businesses that provide professional services to other companies for a fee.
  • Education – refers to establishments that primarily provide individuals with education. This industry includes primary, secondary and higher education, as well as courses that will improve individuals technical skills.
  • Electronics – refers to companies that provide consumers with the equipment to consume entertainment and electronic communication, as well as electronic small appliances and white goods.
  • Engineering – refers to companies that manufacture e.g. engines, machine-tools or heavy infrastructures.
  • Entertainment – This refers to companies that provide entertainment to the public, music, film and game streaming services, especially.
  • Environmental – refers to organisations and businesses providing goods and services to prevent, limit and measure any damage to the environment.
  • Finance – refers to businesses that manage the movement of money and capital. This includes banks and credit unions, as well as credit card and insurance companies.
  • Food & Beverage – refers to retailers who sell foods or beverages, bars and restaurants. This also includes take-away meals.
  • Public Sector – refers to companies that are controlled by the government, such as the justice, civil protection, and housing departments.
  • Healthcare – refers to private and public companies that provide goods and services to treat patients. This includes facilities such as hospitals, medical laboratories, care homes, and dental practices.
  • IT – refers to information technology companies that store, transmit, and manipulate data. They usually develop computer softwares to do so.
  • Machinery – refers to companies that are responsible for the production and maintenance of machinery for consumers and other industries.
  • Manufacturing – refers to companies that process and prepare goods such as tools and textiles from raw materials for other businesses and consumers.
  • Marketing – refers to companies providing advertising, marketing, or public relations services to other companies who wish to promote their goods or services to other companies or to the public.
  • Media – refers to companies that provide entertainment and information to the public. This includes publishing, broadcasting, music, and social media companies for example.
  • Sales and Retail – refers to companies that are selling consumer goods, such as clothes and accessories, decorative objects and books, for example.
  • Shipping – refers to companies that are responsible for the management of goods from the point of origin to the location of consumption. Mainly, this refers to logistics companies.
  • Technology – refers to companies that engineer products such as cars, trains, and planes, as well as other products and services that are physical, e.g. traffic lights.
  • Telecommunications – refers to companies that are responsible for the development of information and communication technology to ensure people are able to remain connected to one another globally.
  • Transportation – refers to companies that provide the services to move people. This industry includes public transport and airlines.
  • Utilities – refers to companies that provide and maintain infrastructures that are vital for the public. This includes gas, water, and electricity suppliers.