Alternatives to Traditional Employee Timesheets

Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

Companies used to ask employees to fill in their paper timesheets to track attendance and calculate payrolls based on working hours. Nowadays traditional timesheets are super obsolete and ineffective because the digital era offers a lot more flexible and reliable tools for time and attendance tracking. Read on to learn about other tools and approaches that have replaced traditional employee timesheets.

Pen & Paper

At this point, you may wonder how pen and paper could replace traditional timesheets. You might be surprised but in some cases, pen and paper are the only possible time tracking solutions.

Imagine you work in a place with no internet access or any piece of tech. You’ve got a wristwatch or physical clock to keep track of time but no tools to record it other than pen and paper. You can write down the time you started and finished working per session and then calculate the number of hours worked in total.

This time tracking method is the most inconvenient and error-prone in our list. First of all, your employees can make inaccurate records due to misreading the clock, which leads to overpayments or underpayments. Second, there are huge time theft and productivity losses because your employees need to record their time manually, calculate working hours and you as a manager have to chase down employees for their papers, interpret their notes and manually transfer this data to other paper timesheets, timebooks or a piece of software. Actually, there are lots of disadvantages to this timekeeping method, but sometimes it’s the only way to track time.

Pro tip: Even if employees have to record their time with pen and paper, consider downloading timesheet templates, printing them out and distributing them across your team to streamline time reporting and bring more order into time tracking routines. Read on to learn more about paper timesheets.

Paper Timesheets

Paper (or traditional) timesheets are usually sheets of paper with predefined data where employees can track how much time they spent working on different tasks. They can usually either log the start and the end time of the tasks or record task duration. In the case of paper timesheets, employees usually have to hand them in on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.

What makes traditional timesheets a better alternative to the old-school pen and paper method is that they are more organized and customizable. With paper timesheets, you are free to build your own templates that suit your management needs. You can define if your employees should use them to clock in and out or ask them to record time against different tasks throughout the day. In some cases, these timesheets can contain fields for overtime hours and sick leave hours.

At the same time, as any manual timekeeping method, traditional timesheets are rather unreliable and have the same cons as does pen and paper method: time theft, productivity losses, loads of paperwork, human error, cumbersome and tedious approval process, you name it.

Pro tip: Searching for the perfect timesheet template on the Internet may take a lot of time. To save yourself some time and implement a quality timesheet, use available free templates for inspiration, build your own in Word, Excel, Google Docs, or Google Sheets and print it out.

Excel & Google Sheets Timesheets

If your employees use personal computers at the workplace, spreadsheets will make a better choice for your team than old-school pen-and-paper approaches.

If your company has a strict privacy policy and you prefer to keep important information offline, you’ll enjoy using Excel spreadsheets for time tracking. The idea is the same as in the case of paper spreadsheets: you build a template that fits your management needs, distribute it across the team and gather the docs daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or on a monthly basis. The biggest advantage of spreadsheets is that you can automate all necessary calculations with formulas. It means that your employees need to log their hours daily and watch their totals calculated for them.

If your company policy allows for online documents and tools, consider Google Sheets — an online alternative of MS Excel that is available online and supports real-time collaboration. Ultimately, Google Sheets works the same as MS Excel, so you can copy and paste particular formulas or whole templates and they will work all the same.

Pro tip: If you can’t decide between Google Sheets and MS Excel, pick Google Sheets. It offers cross-device accessibility and automatic saving. With it, you can be sure that your data will be safely stored even if you go offline. Moreover, you won’t need to collect docs as in the case of Excel — you can use different tabs inside a single doc or use different docs. And don’t forget to master and use formulas to automate calculations.

Cloud Time Tracking Software

And finally the most advanced option on the list. The market of time tracking software is full of solutions tailored for particular businesses and teams. What makes modern time tracking tools even more attractive is that most of them offer cross-platform access, so you can track time on the go with a mobile app wherever you are. These tools also not only offer time tracking with timesheets but also a stopwatch that can capture time against particular tasks.

Another huge advantage over other options is that time tracking software offers much more than simple attendance tracking and timekeeping. The variety of features may differ but usually, these tools capture work time, absences, record tasks and projects, offer productivity analytics, and more.

Pro tip: Time tracking software is the only option in the list that most often offers paid subscription plans. And it shouldn’t scare you away because it usually costs a few dollars per user so that you could use the software, the mobile app, app integrations, technical support and other benefits that all previous options don’t provide.

For example, actiTIME offers a free 30-day trial that doesn’t require a credit card and provides a free plan for teams of up to three users. You can record time with browser software, browser extension or a mobile app using weekly timesheets or stopwatch. Review employee productivity using data-based charts and reports, approve their timesheets, set up automatic reminders, calculate overtime and more. Discover the full functionality of actiTIME, because it’s much more than a simple time tracker.

Have You Made Up Your Mind?

Some of our clients admitted that before they switched to time tracking software, most of them had to use Excel spreadsheets to monitor employee attendance and track time. With time trackers they can now do more than that: track employee productivity, calculate costs and revenues based on time and individual hourly rates, manage absences and automate PTO calculations, and more with a single piece of software. Try actiTIME’s 30-day free trial to see if it’s a good fit for your business.



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