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The skills gap may be difficult to quantify, but you probably feel it very tangibly within your own organization. Deutsche Bank reports that the number of days to fill a job in the U.S. is at an all-time high. It now takes an average 31 days to fill a job. That number is up 15 days from 2009.

If you have technical or in-demand job openings, you probably noticed they’re taking more than 31 days to fill.

In true supply and demand fashion, as the talent pool shrinks, rates increase. So not only are you waiting longer for talent, it’s also costing you more.

We can look to Upwork’s data for an indication of how much rates increased. Freelancers advertise a vast range of knowledge-based skills on the platform, where they earn more than $1 billion annually.

Upwork found that for 75 skills, hourly rates jumped 25% over the last 12 months.

Adding to the talent shortage, “A third of today’s skills for today’s jobs will be obsolete in the next three years,” says Rich Pearson, Upwork senior vice president of marketing and categories. “And with each day you see this happening with your group, it becomes important to understand where the skills are.”

The bottom line is, work still needs to get done. That’s why more companies are filling in critical skills gaps with freelance experts.

Departments using freelancers at scale

According to Upwork’s data, the three departments utilizing skilled freelancers at scale are: operations, IT and engineering, and marketing.

Operations engage customer service talent to help meet peak demand or to test new services like live chat. Many of these freelancers are stay-at-home parents who can only work during small blocks of time.

IT and engineering mostly leverage contingent workers to create hybrid teams. Hybrid teams are made up of employees and freelancers who collaborate on projects.

Of these hybrid arrangements, the fastest-growing use case involves forming rapid prototype teams. This is where a business unit collaborates directly with freelance experts such as a designer or mobile front-end developer. Their intention is to take ideas from concept through functional prototype within weeks, if not days.

Then there’s marketing. This department continues its gradual movement away from traditional agencies, to avoid their markups. It’s particularly evident for production of most native content such as articles, videos, and motion graphics.

When one person isn’t enough, go with a team

If you have larger projects involving multiple skillsets, you may consider hiring a remote agency. This saves you time individually sourcing each specialist on your own. Although you can usually work with each specialist directly, you enjoy the convenience of a single point of contact.

Richmond Concepts is a remote creative agency. Their team of designers, developers, and writers all use Upwork’s freelancing website. Founder Melody Richmond explains how they work: “We’re headquartered in Michigan, but our team is made up of people all over the world. If there is a specific skill that we need, we can find them and bring them into our project quickly. We also team up with other agencies to access specialized help when needed.”

“Technology is the basis of my entire business,” says Richmond. “We use Upwork to find work. We use Skype often, which makes us feel like we’re in the same room. Our team communicates through HipChat and a project management system called Asana. It really makes collaboration flow perfectly. I feel like my team is there with me, and even the clients.”

Online collaboration tools and access to specialized skills worldwide make remote agencies a popular choice for nearly any company, located anywhere.

It’s why Richmond Concepts can work on projects for startups to Fortune 500s. In addition to the U.S., the company has clients in Belgium, Greece, and the United Kingdom.

Working with people you’ve never met

When working with a remote agency, Richmond says you can never over communicate. In most cases, you can’t provide too many details in your emails or other documents either—they prefer it. Just expect a few questions back and forth while they learn about your needs and, in Richmond’s case, your brand.

In the beginning, you may have more phone calls and video meetings to ensure everyone involved understands the project’s deliverables and expected outcome.

Although working with a team of people located in different cities seems daunting at first, it’s easier than you may think. While face-to-face meetings are beneficial, you don’t have to meet someone in person for them to do great work.

Technology makes it easy for everyone to stay on track and communicate clearly. For nearly every tool used in a traditional agency, there’s a cloud-based version—including whiteboards.

Richmond says, “I don’t see an end to companies demanding more freelancers or remote agencies. I think that location is becoming a thing of the past. When a company is restricted by its location, the skillsets that are there might not be at its full potential.”

The information in this article includes highlights from Rich Pearson’s presentation at Upwork’s Work Without Limits™ Executive Summit.