how-to backgroundWhat is horizontal communication? Tools to use for improvement

What is horizontal communication? Tools to use for improvement

By Stephanie VelazquezPublished: 11/4/20

Horizontal communication is a key practice used in startups and large enterprises to improve the sharing of information between employees.

Considering the amount of time employees spend during meetings, giving presentations or sending e-mails to colleagues, effective communication in the workplace plays an important role in the success of a company

Therefore, as your company grows, you will need to adapt your communication practices accordingly.

In this article, we explain what horizontal communication is, the advantages of using this practice, other types of communication used in business and what tools to use for improving communication in a work environment.

What is horizontal communication?


Horizontal communication, also called lateral communication, is the practice of sharing information between employees, departments and units within the same level of an organization.

When using this method, businesses aim to improve teamwork and problem-solving skills by encouraging the correct flow of messages from people at the same hierarchical level. Therefore, when the company grows, horizontal communication provides a feeling of unity within a team that works towards the same goals.

Here is an example of how horizontal communication between managers:

horizontal communication managers

© Sandglaz

This type of communication allows employees from different departments to work together in a synchronized work environment.


Improving horizontal communication is a trend in business today, due to the number of advantages this method offers, such as:

  • coordinates activities,
  • improves problem-solving skills,
  • decreases misunderstandings,
  • promotes teamwork,
  • increases job satisfaction,
  • empowers employees.


However, there are a few disadvantages to use horizontal communication that you should consider before implementing it in your workplace. This method can:

  • be difficult to maintain control,
  • be time-consuming,
  • create conflict between employees,
  • create a lack of discipline.

Other types of business communication

Vertical communication

As its name implies, vertical communication is the opposite of horizontal information. Therefore, it's the practice of sharing information between members of an organization that are on different levels of hierarchy, most communications in organizations are considered to be vertical.

Vertical communication can be used both in a downward and upward direction.

vertical communication

© thebusinesscommunication

In downward communication, information such as instructions, directives or objectives are transmitted from managers to staff.

This type of communication is used to:

  • set goals and objectives,
  • define strategies,
  • give feedback,
  • explain procedures face-to-face,
  • define rules and company values.

    Whereas, in upward communication, information is shared in the opposite direction. Employees use this form of communication to:

    • show progress,
    • explain the difficulties that they have encountered,
    • suggest improvements,
    • ask for advice and strategic recommendations.

Diagonal communication

Diagonal communication is when employees from different organizational units and different hierarchical levels exchange information with one another.

This method is commonly used when a company has an informal structure.

Members of an organization tend to use this form of communication to:

  • increase the efficiency of employees,
  • improve relationships between colleagues,
  • build employee trust,
  • help employees adapt to changes,
  • stimulate creativity.

Improve communication with a dedicated tool

Now that you are aware of the different forms of communication and how they are used in business,how do you put this structure into practice in your workplace?

To help you implement or improve your communication structure, we have selected a list of tools that we recommend using.

Slite, helps your teams stay organized

Slite is a collaborative documentation tool designed to help team members create, share and archive documents easily.

Members of your organization can use this solution to create spaces dedicated to each task or projects. Teams can then share their documents and notes concerning projects to be carried out, concerning strategies, or concerning departments of the company through the collaborative platform.

Trello, a visual collaboration tool

Trello is an online task management tool designed to help businesses create visual maps and organize tasks according to projects and progress.

Trello is the ideal tool for increasing team efficiency while improving interpersonal communications, indeed, this solution makes employees familiar with the concept of workflow management; also putting in practice a wide range of features including Trello boards, lists, and cards.

Communication and remote work

With the increasing number of people working from home today, it is more important than ever to ensure that communication is clear within your organization. This will help employees solve issues that they are unable to answer alone, by having a different point of views from colleagues working in different departments.

Communication and teamwork go hand in hand. Therefore, if you invest in one, you will reinforce the other. Furthermore, by improving communication in the workplace, you will be able to improve collaboration between different members of your organization, create a synchronized work environment to solve issues and forge stronger teams.

So what are your thoughts on horizontal communication? Is this the best structure for your business?

Let us know how you improve communication among your team members!

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