Why you need to maintain a timesheet: Pros and cons of timesheet in Excel or Google Docs

Pros and Cons of Timesheet in Excel or Google docs
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Whether you run a tech startup or a call center, keeping track of staff hours is critical. However, managing employee attendance in this post-pandemic remote/hybrid work culture is difficult. So, how do you keep track of staff hours? Do you ask them to be honest about it or write their worked hours for the month on paper? One of the simplest methods is using a spreadsheet-based timesheet to track billable hours.

Once you are done with this blog, you will have some clue what a timesheet is and its pros and cons.

If you think that manual timesheets are not for you, you can use a simple alternative mentioned at the end.

What is a timesheet and what is it used for?

Imagine a data table containing employee information and their worked hours in a specific period. That’s a spreadsheet.

What is a timesheet used for? Businesses use timesheets to track time spent on tasks, projects, and clients. Freelancers or remote workers can precisely compute their billable hours despite working irregular hours.

Before spreadsheet-based timesheets, employers used paper timesheets to record billable hours. They had to create a timesheet from scratch every day!

Imagine you are an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise). Using a timesheet makes complete sense for you. A powerful spreadsheet-based timesheet can help you manage the entire business.

Also, smaller timesheets can help micromanage activities. You can have timesheets for payrolls or the time needed for a project. The process may not be perfect, but it’s efficient compared to the conventional pen and paper methods.

Why not use a timesheet in Excel?

FeatureTimesheets in ExcelTimesheets in Google Sheets
📊 Platform Type💻 Installed software, often part of Microsoft Office🌐 Cloud-based, accessible via web browser
🚀 Accessibility📥 Limited to the device with Excel installed🌐 Accessible from any device with internet connection
🔄 Real-time Collaboration❌ Limited, requires manual sharing and updates✔️ Seamless real-time collaboration with team members
📈 Data Analysis📊 Robust analysis tools within Excel📈 Built-in data analysis features, but less extensive
🔄 Auto-saving❌ Manual saving required✔️ Auto-saving in real-time
🛠️ Integration🔄 Limited third-party integrations🔄 Extensive integration options through Google Workspace
💼 Business Use🏢 Commonly used in traditional office environments🚀 Popular in collaborative and remote work settings
📱 Mobile Access❌ Limited access on mobile devices✔️ Mobile-friendly interface for on-the-go tracking
📆 Calendar Integration❌ Requires manual linking✔️ Seamless integration with Google Calendar

This table provides a quick overview of some key features and differences between using timesheets in Excel and Google Sheets.

The choice between the two platforms depends on factors such as collaboration needs, accessibility, and the overall workflow preferences of the team.

But in my objective opinion, the hours tracker in Google Sheets is much more convenient.

Pros of using spreadsheet-based timesheets

Yes, timesheets do help in improving productivity. However, a detailed list of its advantages will make it easier to understand.

What are the alternative to timesheets or time sheet
Credit: Monday.com

Boosts profitability 💰

Timesheets in both Excel and Google Sheets can perform extensive analytics and business intelligence operations.

Data tables will have different time slots for employees so that you can easily fit in tasks. You can track who worked for how long on a specific project.

Invoicing becomes simple, and you can monitor the effectiveness of the campaign.

For small businesses providing custom solutions to clients, timesheets are invaluable. You can identify whether a client is over- or under-charged. Sharing timesheets with clients can increase transparency and credibility.

When clients see the value they have received after the time they have invested, they become interested in working on other projects with you. They become loyal customers.

“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.” – Chip Bell.

Apart from current clients, tracking the costs of projects enables you to fine-tune your pricing strategy and make more educated judgments about how much to charge new clients.

Try the Tackle app. It’s free, forever!

Increases productivity and accountability ⏱️

According to Staff Squared, one of the most popular HR software, nearly 90% of employees waste time on the job daily, with social media distractions costing the US economy approximately $32 billion each year, or an average of $1040 per employee.

When employees start measuring their time, they become more accountable. Timesheets show employees the output of their hard work.

If a person feels accountable for a specific aspect of a project, rather than being a cog in a machine, they will feel valuable. This value becomes an intrinsic motivator for the employees.

So, errors become less frequent, and transparency increases between management and employees.

Identifies areas for automation 🤖

Unit 4, a leading enterprise system for service organizations, released the results of independent research on global productivity.

The results show that in all the countries in the study, office workers spend 552 hours/year on admin or repetitive tasks. It’s equivalent to 69 working days.

According to an ABBYY study, 62% of UK employees want their companies to streamline or automate their operations, particularly for manual, paper-based tasks.

You can’t expect employees to spend hours on menial jobs. Companies need to streamline these tasks.

hours tracker in google sheets and timesheet compliance

But without timesheets, there is no accurate way of determining these small jobs. Timesheets provide a comprehensive view of all the tasks of an employee.

So, when you look at it, you will identify tasks that are a waste of time and resources. It allows employees extra time for more meaningful activities.

Employees will feel motivated. It decreases their stress levels and anxiety. Furthermore, their work day or week will become much shorter allowing them more time to relax.

Tracks staff behavior and adapts roles 🔄

Positions at a company will evolve, change, and inevitably become redundant. The challenge is not holding onto your roles. It’s about adapting to the new ones.

Companies that can keep up with the fast-paced dynamics of the business landscape are more likely to succeed. Timesheets combined with a bit of creativity you with this.

Timesheets help you discover which departments require workers to work overtime more frequently, which may indicate that they may be understaffed and require more resources.

Alternatively, you can identify which departments are overstaffed, with individuals frequently clocking out early, indicating that you can allocate their time to other business areas.

Cons of using spreadsheet-based timesheet

As Leonardo Di Caprio said in Heat, “There’s a flip side to the coin.” Spreadsheet-based time sheets have their flaws.

1. Low employee morale 😞

Accountability can help increase productivity. However, some employees believe that there should be trust in an employer-employee relationship. So, they may perceive timesheets as management constantly spying on them.

Furthermore, if you decide to maintain timesheets, you need to do so for the entire business. Selecting a few employees or a few departments can significantly reduce their morale.

You need to ensure that not only first-level employees but also top-management people are maintaining timesheets as well. Employees dislike seeing segregation in their workplace.

2. Timesheet anxiety ⏰

Numerous factors can contribute to timesheet anxiety. For example, team members may feel bad about reporting their ‘real’ hours if a task takes longer than the ‘appropriate’ time.

timesheet in excel
Credit: LinkedIn

Alternatively, personal or health circumstances may force an employee to underperform for a brief period, prompting them to panic if they are unable to clock in a sufficient amount of time.

3. Difficult to track intangible tasks 🌐

Meetings, catch-up sessions, and brainstorming sessions can all be valuable to a project, but they can also be challenging to measure effectively.

For instance, six members attended a client meeting for an hour. Is it counted as one hour of the client’s time allowance, and if so, which of the six attendees keeps track of that time?

Or is it six hours of the client’s time allowance, because each member spent an hour in the meeting?

Intangible tasks have no specified metrics. So, efficiency results for such tasks become highly subjective.

4. Human error 🤦‍♂️

Your timesheets can be powerful and highly automated. However, manual timesheets require some level of human interaction, and humans aren’t machines. An unintentional mistake can lead to employees misrepresenting their hours.

So, you need to check your timesheets to avoid payroll problems. You do not want to be under-compensated for your work, and your employer wouldn’t want to overpay you.

Time tracking software: Better than manual timesheets

  1. The best alternative to timesheets is time tracking software. Manual timesheets aren’t perfect. But if you are a perfectionist, and looking for something more dependable, an online timesheet software or time card calculator is the perfect solution.
  2. Employees only need to clock in when they begin work and out after their shift using an online employee timesheet solution. The program will automatically generate timesheets for them depending on their hours worked.
  3. Additionally, because the data is 100% accurate, you can feel assured that you are paying staff or billing clients the correct amount.
  4. The software will provide you with detailed information about the employee’s work hours, and you can accurately assess their productivity.
  5. The fun part is that all your favorite productivity tools can be accumulated in one place. No more hundred tabs for Asana, Slack, or Google Calender. You don’t have to keep a separate tab for Salesforce or Zapier.

Everything is in one place!

The bigger question: which software to use?

Search ‘time tracking software’ in your Google search bar, and your anxiety will hit the roof. All of us like options. But too many options, and we become indecisive.

Once you get the search results, you will find tons of software services. But since you only need one, you should go for something that has been used by 100,000+ users.

Tackle is a time tracker that allows you to measure your time spent on tasks in real-time and then analyze whether you’ve achieved them or not. It provides an easy way to construct timelines from your calendar data directly so that you will be able to track hours and time spent in new and inventive ways.

But why Tackle? Understand that your management needs are different from those of others, and Tackle caters to those special needs.

Another important feature is that Tackle utilizes machine learning to explore and analyze your key performance indicators (KPIs). So, at the end of the day, you will have your priorities sorted and can assist your team in getting the most out of their day.

Credit: Tackle

What’s unique is Tackle helps you assess your meeting health and create timesheets. You can identify whether a specific meeting is productive for your team or is just compounding their burnout.

Key features:

  • Calendar Event Analytics
  • Realtime Time Tracking
  • Categorize and Tag Events
  • Custom Reports
  • Sync with Google Sheets
  • Enterprise-Grade Security
  • Easy to use Chrome Integration

The Spreadsheet vs. Timesheet app debate has a clear winner. People like to work smart, and timesheet apps make that possible.

Try the Tackle app. It’s free, forever!


Timesheet compliance extends beyond merely filling in billable hours accurately and correctly. It often adheres to predetermined company or industry standards, delineating what is pertinent to each entity or project type. This ensures alignment with specific criteria, fostering precision and consistency in timesheet practices.

After considering all these choices, you may decide to use timesheets in your organization. They are not for everyone, but many firms find them to be an efficient method to save time and money, and as long as you are aware of the potential negatives, you can typically work around them.

💡 Tackle Pro Tip
If you are not accustomed to using a timesheet calculator, you can check out ours right here. Probably you will become a Timesheet app believer.

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Maximize potential: Tackle’s automated time tracking & insights

Maximize potential: Tackle’s automated time tracking & insights