Horizontal communication: Definition, advantages & types

Horizontal communication: Definition, advantages & types

By Ricardo Singh
Updated: 9 November 2020, first publication: July 2020

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

Considering the amount of time employees spend in meetings, giving presentations or sending e-mails to colleagues, shows that communication in the workplace plays an important role in the success of a business.

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, and other types of communication used in business.

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 cooperation and problem-solving by encouraging the flow of messages from people at the same level. Therefore, when the company grows, horizontal communication provides a feeling of unity with a team that works towards the same goals.

Here is an example of how horizontal communication between managers:


© Sandglaz

Moreover, this type of communication is effective because it allows employees from different departments to work together in a synchronized work environment in order to solve issues and increase productivity.


Improving horizontal communication is a trend in business today due to the number of advantages this method offers. With horizontal communication, businesses can:

  • coordinate activities
  • improve problem-solving
  • decrease misunderstandings
  • promote teamwork
  • increase job satisfaction
  • empower employees


However, there are a few disadvantages to using 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 is the practice of sharing information between members of an organisation that are on different levels of hierarchy. Most communications in organisations are considered to be vertical.

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


© 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 from different hierarchical levels exchange information with one another. This method is commonly used when a company has an informal structure.


© Lumen Learning

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 you are aware of the different forms of communication and how they are used in business.

But how do you put this into practice in your workplace?

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

Slite, help 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.


+200 reviews

collaborative documentation tool
Learn more about Slite

LastPass, the tool that remembers all of your passwords for you

LastPass is an ideal tool to improve communication in the workplace. With this password manager, you can configure a list of passwords that employees have access to. This will allow them to connect to applications, corporate sites and web browsers without having to ask colleagues or supervisors.

With LastPass, all of your company’s passwords are stored in a secure vault. And, this offers a password-free experience to all of your employees, even if they are offline.

From protecting passwords to managing employee permissions, LastPass helps businesses of all sizes remove password obstacles and fix dangerous password behaviours.


+200 reviews

The tool that remembers all of your passwords for you
Learn more about LastPass

Trello, a visual collaboration tool

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

Trello is the ideal tool to increase the efficiency of your teams while improving communication. Indeed, this solution makes employees familiar with the concept of workflow management. And, it puts this into practice with a wide range of features including Trello boards, lists, and cards.


+200 reviews

Visual collaboration tool for tasks and project management
Learn more about Trello

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 are interconnected. Therefore, if you invest in one, you will reinforce the other. And, by improving communication in the workplace, you will be able to improve the 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? Do you use this practice in your business?

If not, let us know how you improve communication between your team members.

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