How to Create a Work Schedule in Excel?

By Michaël Thibault July 26 2019

Work schedules are a management right that is essential to all employers. In its simplest form, this management right usually translates to a document indicating who is scheduled to work, when, and for how long.

It’s generally accepted that any good work schedule should include each employee’s weekly number of work hours as well as which role employees are expected to play, should they have more than one.

Work schedules have two main goals. They allow managers to quickly ensure that all of their business’s essential positions have been assigned for a given time period. They allow employees to access information on their work hours and tasks, which lets them organize their daily schedule.

Excel is one of the most popular work schedule planning tools. Although generic yet user-friendly, Excel stands out due to its omnipresence and versatility, and the sheer amount of information available about it online.

In this article, we will show you one of the fastest and easiest ways of creating a work schedule in Excel from scratch.

Step 1: creating the main axes

After opening a new sheet, the first step is to create the two axes which will form the basis of your work schedule. The Y-axis cells, that is, the vertical axis, will represent your employees. The X-axis cells, that is, the horizontal axis, will represent work day dates.

You’ll note that we left an empty row below each employee’s name. In Excel, ensuring that each cell contains only one piece of information is good practice. However, each work day should include information about work hours and positions. This information is optional if your employees always keep the same role.

💡 Quick tip: Click the bottom right corner of a cell containing a date, hold the left mouse button, and then drag the cursor over adjacent cells to create a logical series of dates.

Step 2: entering scheduled work hours

Now that you’ve created the frame of your work schedule, you can add relevant information to it, based on your needs and your employees’ constraints. The cells at the intersection of a given employee’s name (row) and a date (column) should contain information on this employee’s work hours, based on their position for that day.

The end result should be a functional yet bare work schedule. Certain processes such as worked hours and labor costs calculations can be automated using advanced formulas. This falls out the scope of this article. However, we suggest that you download our free Excel work schedule template. This template will save a lot of time, as you’ll simply have to insert your data, and allow you to become more familiar with some of Excel’s more advanced features.

Step 3: customizing your work schedule

Creating a busy work schedule is easy enough, but busy schedules can quickly become difficult to read. This is why we recommend that you use bolding, borders, cell width and height, text alignment, and alternating fill colors to improve your schedule’s readability.

Since there’s a near-limitless number of ways of customizing your Excel schedule, you could easily spend a couple of hours tweaking everything. Don't aim for perfection here; go for something simple and functional instead.

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