Timesheets keep track of team member work hours and help companies hit their goals. But did you know that timesheets can also help you manage projects and monitor team performance? In this article, learn how to integrate online time tracking with your daily workflow to align your team and increase flexibility.
What if we told you a timesheet was more than a punch clock tool used in movies? In fact, modern timesheets can help you track team workload, reduce burnout, and evaluate overall team progress.
In addition to keeping track of work hours, timesheets help companies meet business objectives and stay within budget. These data tables also help facilitate project and team success. In this article, you’ll learn how to use a timesheet template. Plus, we’ll explain the benefits that come with online time tracking.
Traditionally, timesheets are printed out at the beginning of the day or week and used to track a team member’s working hours. And while there’s something satisfying about doing it on paper, paper timesheets have several disadvantages—they can get lost, they quickly become outdated when something changes, and there can only be one source of truth.
That’s why modern teams are moving to online time tracking technology. Online timesheets increase flexibility and allow teams to report hours in real-time. Unlike printable timesheets, online time tracking allows you to:
Share timesheets among team members
View changes in real-time
Edit timesheets when needed
Create timesheets for specific projects
Add multiple variables to timesheets
Integrating online time tracking with your team’s daily workflow can streamline the payroll process and help you monitor things like your team’s availability and expenses. It can also help you reduce overwork and burnout. Even if you use printable timesheets to keep track of hours, you can use Asana to coordinate your team’s workload.Create a work log template
The timesheets you use for your team will likely depend on two things—how often your team members get paid and any local or federal laws. Aligning timesheets with company pay periods allows you to view time in well-defined blocks, align work hours with team member paychecks, and share timesheets with other departments as needed.
Common timesheet types include:
Daily: Daily timesheets are useful if your team has complex work schedules. Team members who clock in and out at various times throughout the day will need to track their time closely. Daily timesheets can also track specific daily tasks like internal meetings, time spent on admin work, and time spent on client projects.
Bi-weekly: A bi-weekly timesheet can help you visualize team performance in 80-hour time blocks. If your company pays team members every other week, then the bi-weekly timesheet may be fitting (depending on local or federal law).
Monthly: Monthly timesheets can also correspond to company pay periods, but this timesheet often provides a more high-level view of team work hours. You can use monthly timesheets to analyze utilization rates and team work patterns.
While teams often choose their timesheets based on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, you may also choose a specific timesheet type to gain operational insight or to make it easier for team members to keep track of their hours. Before implementing any changes to your team’s timesheet, make sure to check with your internal legal and HR teams to confirm there are no local or federal regulations you need to factor in.
Timesheets aren’t difficult to use, but if team members don’t fill them out correctly, it can result in inaccurate pay and be cumbersome to fix. Explaining this process to your team can prevent project risks or inaccuracies.
The first step of time tracking is to select a timesheet template—that way, you have a preset schedule to work from. Work with your internal legal and HR teams to choose a template that fits your team’s pay period. For example, you might align it so the total hours at the bottom of each timesheet align with team member paychecks. Whether you prefer to focus on team productivity or billing clients, you can customize a timesheet to fit your team’s needs.
For example, a project timesheet can track team member hours in relation to project tasks. Team members can also track time by how many hours they’ve spent on various client projects throughout the day.
Tip: If your team has a unique work schedule because of remote or freelance work, work with your internal legal and HR teams to create a custom timesheet template by making a data table with “hours” as your columns and “days” as your rows. Adjust the table to meet your team’s individual needs.
You’ll need a separate timesheet template for each team member, so it’s important to label them. On the top of each timesheet, create a section for things like:
Team member name
Pay period dates
This information will keep your team organized and provide a standardized way to track timesheets over time.
Tip: Online time tracking can make organizing timesheets simpler. With Asana’s workload management software, you can integrate a time tracking tool and refer to past timesheets whenever you need them, whether to share with other departments, prepare performance evaluations, or bill clients.Create a work log template
Adding custom categories to your timesheet templates can give you a more accurate picture of your team’s work hours. Some categories you could include are:
Sick time hours
Additional categories you can include, depending on the timesheet you’re using, are:
Hours per project
Total time in meetings
Admin tasks (emails, task management, weekly reporting, etc.)
Without custom categories, your team members may not account for the hours they spent away from their desks. They may also lose track of their hours and forget to report time.
Tip: Adding too many categories to your timesheet template can have a similar effect and may make it hard for team members to input hours accurately. To keep a good balance, don’t add categories that overlap (i.e., billable hours and hours per client), or your team may forget to report their hours in both places.
Before using your new timesheets, ask your legal or HR teams to run a training session on how to fill them out correctly. During this session, they can also go over any other company restrictions that may apply such as:
When the timesheet is due
How to handle overtime
What happens if a timesheet is late.
A qualified team member should perform this training so they can speak to any local or federal laws about payment.
Once your team has been trained on how to use their timesheets effectively, it's their responsibility to fill them out accordingly. Tracking time is a step you should hand over to your team members because it would be difficult for you to know where every team member is and what they’re doing. While your team members track their time, you can be there to offer a helping hand when needed.
You can also give your team members useful tips to increase their time tracking efficiency. Some ideas include:
Use a running timer to track project time.
Report time as you start or mark progress on a project.
Clock in and out as soon as you start or end each day.
Try time management solutions, like timeboxing or time blocking.
Having a process for time tracking can keep team members from feeling disrupted throughout their day.
Tip: When you make time tracking a seamless part of the work process, it becomes second nature to your team. Instead of using a static timesheet template, consider putting your tasks in an online tool to make monitoring easier.
Simple timesheet templates provide a clear visual of the total time worked, but you still need to calculate the total time by adding up the total hours from each workday. The benefit of using a timesheet that aligns with your company pay period is that your total time worked on your timesheet will show team members how much the company will pay them in that period.
Calculating the total time on your timesheets can also help you assess team availability and plan future projects. If you notice areas of overwork, use that information to adjust team work schedules accordingly.
Tip: The simplest way to calculate the total time worked is with online software. Instead of sifting through timesheet templates, use automatic calculations and data tables to visualize work hours. That way, you can take notice of patterns you may not have seen otherwise.Read: Data-driven decision making: A beginner's guide
Below, you’ll see an example of a bi-weekly timesheet. In this example, the team member has various options to fill in for each day of the week. These options include:
Lunch start time
Lunch end time
Total hours worked
This timesheet template includes many variables like lunch breaks, absences, and overtime hours. As long as your team members report their time correctly, this template should reveal an accurate account of hours worked. Before submitting the template to HR, make sure to review it for errors.
Download a free version of this bi-weekly timesheet below. You can also use this template as a guide when creating daily, weekly, or monthly timesheet templates for your team. Before using this template, run it by your internal legal and HR teams and modify it as necessary.
Printable timesheet templates can be a helpful starting point for organizing your team’s work schedules, but if you want the flexibility to fix errors, track hours in real-time, and monitor team performance, then online time tracking is ideal. With a work management platform like Asana, you can bring work to life and manage everything from workflows to time tracking in one platform.Create a work log template