Are you ever asked how many hours do you or your team have available to actually take on projects? Or what your true creative team capacity when adding a new team member(s)?

Whether you're an in-house team, a small agency or even just a freelancer, you need to see what capacity your team really has to produce great work that isn't compromising creative integrity.

For me, leading an in-house team, I was more cognizant of this when working on our chargeback model. How many hours we could allocate to different parts of the business was the main challenge - but we had to establish how many hours we had available, to begin with.

Here’s how we came up with the algorithm : 

First - Let’s create a list of all employees on the team.  

I also like to put a description of their role (i.e., worker, senior, Team leader etc…) I do this because everyone on your team likely has other responsibilities based on their seniority or people leading skills that take away from their billable hours.

Next, using a tool like this one - determine how many working days a year you have. For example, in Canada, for 2020, there will be 252 working days when we remove weekends and statutory holidays. helps quickly identify how many working days in a selected date range.

A screenshot of the homepage of to help determine how many work days there are in a given year. helps quickly identify how many working days in a selected period of time

Vacation Days

Next - Find out how many vacation days a year each team member gets. If they're different per employee, make sure you keep track of them next to each person in the spreadsheet.

Now we have the total working days for the year by removing vacation days from the total working days in 2020.

Getting to the final results :

With this example, Marc is a senior role with 2 direct reports - he has more admin with people leading roles, along with more proofing work - so he has a bit less capacity than the others.

Tommy is the Creative Director - so he's always in various meetings - but his "billable" hours are only 50% of his time.

Even with these 2 examples, you can see that everyone's actual capacity shifts based on their role. There are also basic things like admin, training, status meetings, small conversations etc. that lead to someone not working 100% of every minute they're in the office. Therefore I give everyone a productive percent score of approximately what percent of their hours as a team member are actually billable.

And if we use the Productive Percent column across everyone's individual hours - We can now truly establish an accurate picture of how many hours your team has available to work on critical, creative projects.

And here's how it all comes together in a single chart:

This exercise can be used for a chargeback model - but also for a variety of other tasks. Like to identify how many billable hours your agency needs to stay profitable or to identify when a brief comes in if your team can still take it on. You can quickly determine if a single project will consume 50% of your team or only 5%.

It’s worth taking a few moments to establish your team’s capacity. If you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet, you can download it here.