When Casey McConnell started text messaging marketing company Qittle he took the traditional route of hiring onsite employees. But he soon realized it was more advantageous to hire workers online.

“We found it was easy to find these specialists or people that we could hire for a certain amount,” said McConnell, the CEO of Qittle. “We didn’t have the extra overhead and we just got the project done. It’s really easy for us to ramp up our needs or pull back using contractors. If we had an internal staff it’s pretty hard to fluctuate like that.”

Qittle’s preference to hire workers in the cloud is reflected in Elance’s recent survey that shows 83 percent of small businesses plan to hire half their workers online within the next 12 months. Only 10 percent of those surveyed plan to hire predominantly onsite workers (90 percent).

Elance, a marketplace for online workers, has posted more than 600,000 jobs ranging from programers to virtual assistants. Small businesses prefer to hire online because of flexibility, speed and economy of the process cost, according to Fabio Rosati, the CEO of Elance.

“So if you’re a small business owner, you can think of a hybrid model of hiring (online and onsite workers),” said Rosati. “You can think about what skills and what talent you need onsite. You can also decide what skill set you need to be in the cloud which is much more cost-effective and much more flexible.”