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Hybrid, or remote, teams are made up of employees and freelancers who collaborate on projects of any size. Employees perform the ongoing work that moves your company forward. And freelancers perform project-based work requiring specialized skills.

Working with remote individuals lets you access the best talent available, when you need them. Organizations often use this flexible access as an efficient way to innovate faster, shrink turnaround times, scale teams up and down, and more.

With benefits like these, it’s no surprise that hybrid teams are becoming a popular way to get work done.

Although there’s usually a cost-savings with going hybrid, it’s not the key motivation. What companies from scrappy startups to established global leaders found is hybrid teams can provide a serious competitive advantage.

3 companies, 3 remote solutions

Meet growth needs on a tight budget

Instapage is a marketing platform that helps teams build, integrate, and A/B test landing pages at scale. In 2012, the San Francisco-based company launched its product with only a three-person team. They grew rapidly, which created demand for more engineers, designers and customer support specialists. But competition and costs for local talent were prohibitive, so the company turned to the talent cloud by securing experts through Upwork.

Tyson Quick, CEO and co-founder of Instapage, says, “Engaging freelancers outside of the Bay Area let us stay competitive because we can’t always find the top-quality people here. And the cost savings let us continue to grow the company with a lot less capital.”

As the company grew, they continued using a hybrid model. Not only did this help them maintain a high-quality product, it saved them nearly $2.3M annually. The savings was reinvested into marketing and product development, which helped fuel growth.

Achieve aggressive goals in a fraction of the time

Have you ever wished you could bend time? One major e-commerce marketplace seemed to when they set out to aggressively boost their website’s SEO traffic. Part of their strategy involved developing long-form content to attract visits and drive sales. This required a wide variety of subject matter experts who could churn out high-quality content every few days.

Finding such diverse talent locally, and within their tight timeframe, wasn’t possible. So the company turned to a freelancing website. Within a week, they engaged over 30 qualified writers.

Working with remote writers proved so successful that the freelance team grew to over 200. Within a year, they delivered over 10,000 articles. SEO traffic grew tremendously. The company continued their success by using hybrid teams to develop traffic for their other localized sites.

Expand service reach nearly overnight

You’ve probably heard of, or used, Tango. It’s a popular mobile messaging app with over 350 million users. When the free app first launched, they gained one million users in just 10 days. Understandably, the unexpected growth completely overwhelmed their two-person customer service team.

Tango quickly engaged 10 remote agents located in different countries. With agents in different time zones, Tango could provide 24/7 support, seemingly overnight. Response time improved by over 67%, and every customer received a same-day reply.

Tango maintained its high customer service standards by scaling their remote team as the company reached 200 countries. The flexibility also enabled Tango to achieve another service goal of providing multilingual support.

Overcoming the hybrid team hurdle

If you’re still unsure whether you’re ready for hybrid teams, your hesitations are valid. To start, how can you ensure they’ll deliver high-quality work that’s on-brand? How can you trust they’ll get the work done on time? How do you build trust and collaboration between employees and freelancers?

The answer begins with technology. Companies find tremendous success by using online collaboration tools from document sharing like Google Docs, to video conferencing like Skype to promote stronger communication and connections.

The growing popularity of remote teams also birthed a range of cloud-based project management software such as JIRA, Basecamp, and Asana. These solutions provide 24/7 transparency into each person’s work completion. These solutions not only help you see everyone’s progress, they also help each person involved know what projects they’re supposed to do next and if they’re on schedule.

What’s more, Freelancer Management Systems (FMS) streamline the administrative tasks associated with engaging freelancers and agencies. With robust solutions, such as Upwork Enterprise, you can perform everything from talent sourcing to payments and worker classification within a single channel.

Keep in mind that using remote teams isn’t new. Open source communities have always been fully distributed, or remote. In a recent workforce survey of business leaders, 63% reported they have remote team members.

Trends show hybrid teams are becoming the norm and plenty of resources exist to help you get started. You can even see how Upwork’s design department doubled their output with hybrid teams.

When thinking about remote teams, the question isn’t whether they’re right for your organization. The question is: How will you use them to gain a competitive advantage?

[Download: Building a Top Design Team with Freelancers]