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Sometimes it’s clear when you should engage contingent workers to help you get work done. Like when you need to fill a skills gap. Or when your team needs to be freed up to work on strategic projects. But there are other common situations where flexible workers can make a huge difference to the company’s bottom line (and your team’s morale). Of these three scenarios, which are you experiencing?

Scenario 1
We need a specific skill to get important work done, but only on a project basis.

Sometimes the work you need done doesn’t require an employee, it just needs talent on a project basis. Like many growing companies, Office Libations needs expertise in several areas, but it must manage costs. When the company lost its developer, the team realized they didn’t have enough work for a full-time replacement, but the work still needed to get done. Their solution: Engage remote talent to keep that part of the business supported. Then reinvest remaining resources into other projects.

Scenario 2
We’ve got a lot to do still, but our team’s already scrambling to keep up with their heavy workloads.

No matter how talented and dedicated your team, if they feel overworked, they’ll eventually burn out. As they burn out, their morale and productivity may spiral down until they eventually leave. Engaging ICs, who are specialized in areas that in-house employees are not, can help prevent this pattern from playing out in your team. What’s more, the extra help also frees employees to focus on more business-driving activities.

When their number of quarterly projects suddenly rose by 2.5 times, Jonathan Cofer, executive creative director at Upwork, built a hybrid team of remote specialists. In the end, flexible talent helped Cofer’s team double their creative output while maintaining their high production standards. Working with ICs also enabled Cofer’s team to complete projects they otherwise couldn’t do because they didn’t have all the skills in-house.

Scenario 3
We need to ramp up help quickly, but only for a limited time.

Although you may not need talent at the same scale, there may be times when you need a lot of skilled help, such as during seasonal volume peaks. From software developers to marketing specialists, you can scale up and down quickly with contractors.

A growing number of companies utilize ICs as a cost-effective way to remain responsive and agile. Linguistix Tank, a provider of linguistics services to artificial intelligence (AI) companies worldwide, based their business model on it. Depending on their client’s projects, Linguistix Tank may engage up to 3,000 ICs at one time—within days. Projects can last a few days to several months. For this company, finding the right skills matter more than where the talent is located. As Linguistix Tank contracts people for up to 70 languages, in nearly 70 countries.


Companies are tapping into the nimble and vast talent cloud to innovate faster. With the help of ICs, businesses are taking ideas from concept to prototype within days, instead of months.

ICs are helping companies test new revenue streams. GoDaddy built a hybrid team of employees and ICs to launch a website redesign program in just two months. As the program grew, the virtual team included 70+ designers. Within two years, the company created 10,000 websites and established a successful, new product.

You can also utilize ICs to help you reach business goals faster, as one e-commerce giant did when they wanted to increase SEO traffic to their website. The company engaged over 200 independent writers to increase content by five times. Within the first year, they created 10,000 long-form articles and improved the company’s overall content quality.

Do whatever it takes to create your ideal deck of players. “If you’re going to build something that has a whole bunch of incremental builds in it, then freelancers might be a critically important part.”—Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer, Netflix

When you tap into the talent cloud, the sky literally may be the limit. Think beyond typical use cases by brainstorming with your team. As the examples above show, ICs can help you reach business goals more cost-effectively, and with higher results, than you may imagine.

Upwork is a freelancing website where businesses of all sizes can find talented independent professionals across multiple disciplines and categories. If you’re a business looking to get projects done, start today!