!It looks like a bright, web-based future for many freelancers.

Elance released a survey on the current and future hiring practices of businesses around the world. The results didn’t surprise us: companies are hiring more contract workers.

For this small, informal evaluation of their users, Elance surveyed 1,500 businesses around the world. Although this wasn’t a scientific study, it looks like interesting patterns emerge when you talk to current companies about their freelancers:

  • Companies estimate that in five years, 54% of their workforce will be online contractors
  • The skills of online contractors are the same or even better than local talent
  • 73% of businesses plan to hire more contractors in 2012 than 2011

Read the full survey, which has a few more exciting details for the world of independent contractors looking for work online.

Elance is in the business of cloud employment, connecting employers and contractors globally. Hiring through online platforms has the potential to decrease HR costs and expand the search for talent to the global marketplace, where the polled companies found workers they may not have in a traditional job search.

Meanwhile, independent contractors are able to find a diverse set of clients and line up jobs, no matter where they live. And isn’t that what the internet is for? Connecting people? That kind of flexibility makes freelancers valuable for many businesses.

Photo via Flickr.