Even before the pandemic changed how we work, nearly 80% of the U.S. workforce reported being stressed out by poor communication in their organizations. But, as we’ve learned, the swap to remote working has a knack for highlighting existing communication issues and bringing new ones to life. Unfortunately, this is problematic for several reasons. 

Your business’s communication skills are the foundation upon which the rest of your organization builds. Between interdepartmental issues and customer interactions, communication plays a role in almost every facet of your business. But, just as strong communication systems can improve a company, bad ones can sink it. Employees worldwide regularly cite poor communication as a major reason for their departure from an employer.

With that in mind, let’s look at business communication – what it is, why it matters and how to best support and improve it. With this information, any organization can supercharge its most important tool: communication.

What is Business Communication?

In its most simplistic form, business communication is the ability to dialogue, share ideas and clearly communicate with every level, tier and department within your organization. It also covers the systems you use to support this communication and the policies and procedures around it. 

Business communication covers things like: 

  • How ideas are shared in your organization 
  • The processes for reporting issues regarding business operations or staff conflicts 
  • Continued learning and education to reach your staff

All of these questions become even more critical in the era of remote work. Without the effortless pop-in office meeting or five-minute catch-up at the proverbial water cooler to rely on, supervisors need to have a framework in place to ensure they’re relaying the correct information to their teams. 

Why does business communication matter?

Communication in business can impact almost every facet of an operation. For example, if new procedures aren’t appropriately communicated, training of remote workers is not handled correctly, or issues aren’t being shared between employees and management, the whole system can stop functioning. 

The opposite is also true: good business communication can improve the health of an organization from top-to-bottom, improving efficiency at each step along the way. 

It connects employees 

Connected employees tend to be happier employees. With an ever-increasing share of the labor market being remote workers, companies must ensure they have the tools to form the same camaraderie and relationships they would in a typical office. This fosters teamwork and idea sharing and improves employee retention. 

An astonishing 58% of workers now state that happiness is more important than salary. And since of the leading indicators of happiness at work is whether a coworker feels a connection with their peers or management, companies managing remote workers need to ensure they don’t let this fall by the wayside.

It improves employee satisfaction 

Many of the things that cause employees to become disgruntled or “check out” of their jobs stem from poor communication. New policies that employees resist are often just poorly explained, and vague goals make workers feel at sea. Cleaning up your organization’s communication can remove a lot of confusion at nearly every staff level.

It increases employee engagement 

We’ve discussed employee engagement before in detail, but given how vital this topic is, it’s worth mentioning again. Strong communication in business can go a long way toward getting employees on board with a company’s goals, objectives and overall mission. This, in turn, leads to more committed and engaged employees – the impact of which is immeasurable.

It opens up hiring to multiple time zones and regions

If you already struggle to communicate effectively with your local employees, you can’t take advantage of the global talent pool. However, with a solid communication framework, businesses can feel confident hiring employees from anywhere and rest easy knowing they’re getting the world’s best talent. 

Four common types of business communication

Now that we’ve established the importance of communication in business, let’s look at some of the most common types of business communication. We’ll look at when some styles fit better than others later. But, for now, let’s just do a quick overview of the main communication types.


Top-down communication (sometimes referred to as “downward” communication) is the communication style most people are familiar with. Under this system, goals, objectives, new policies or procedures and any other important information are delivered from the leadership team down the ladder until it reaches the rest of the company.

Typically, this assists companies in delegating responsibilities to the appropriate department heads or managers and allows for a targeted, controlled system of sharing information.


Bottom-up (or “upward”) communication is not as common as the top-down model, but it’s still frequently used. Bottom-up communication is more common in smaller businesses or start-ups, where fostering creativity and individuality is a bigger concern than setting policies and procedures. 

In a bottom-up model, changes start at the ground level. Employees provide feedback, reports and ideas to their managers or department heads, who then make recommendations to the company’s leadership team.


Lateral is a type of communication in business that almost always represents a part of an organization’s larger system of communicating. Lateral communication is best described as peer-to-peer information sharing and planning. For example, departmental heads from different “silos” getting together to present a unified front on upcoming changes, or workers from different teams exchanging information to make their respective jobs easier are examples of lateral communication.

Having a strong process in place for these lateral discussions is essential for larger businesses. That said, having only lateral communication tends to create a tribal environment of “competing” teams, so organizations must ensure it isn’t the only communication they rely on.


Like the lateral information sharing discussed above, external communication occurs in almost every business. This type of communication refers to sharing information outside of the core employees of an organization. Depending on the nature of the business, this could entail communications with outside vendors, manufacturing or logistics companies or the end-user or client. Essentially, any 

Synchronous versus asynchronous communication

Within the larger information styles we discussed above, there are also two approaches to communicating: Synchronous and asynchronous. 

These sound a lot more complicated than they are. Put simply, synchronous communication happens when people discuss things in real-time,  like a phone call. Conversely, with asynchronous communication, the conversation participants participate at different times, like an email. Both involve exchanging information, answering questions and providing feedback. It’s the timing of that communication that changes.

In short, think of the difference between an in-person departmental meeting in the boardroom versus a department-wide email that asks for feedback. The former requires an immediate response and fixed timeframes – the meeting will take place from two to three in the afternoon and will be in a format in which questions should be answered immediately. In contrast, an email allows people to respond when it's convenient for them. 

This old-school type of synchronous communication has long been the standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient. Just as companies are learning that remote work is more productive and results in more engaged and satisfied employees, they are also learning that the asynchronous communication that comes naturally in a remote environment can be more effective as well. 

Rather than forcing immediate (and often partially incorrect) information like synchronous communication, giving employees time to research and fully comprehend a topic before offering feedback tends to produce more accurate and valuable information.

Static versus dynamic business communication

Static and dynamic communication also represents a fairly clear divide between the old and new ways of doing business. Static communication is fixed and inflexible: companies that mandate employees only bring up issues during one-on-ones, performance reviews and meetings would be an example of static communication. Even the type of information exchanged might be limited. Phrases like “this is not the time” or “it’d be more appropriate to discuss this at X” are probably common.

Dynamic communication, on the other hand, is adaptable, energized, and freer in nature. Employees can feel comfortable bringing topics up as they arise or setting meetings with managers when they see something that needs addressing rather than waiting for the next meeting. As a result, ideas are shared more frequently and more often. 

7 biggest business communication challenges

Knowing the different styles of communication that your organization can use is half the battle. Identifying some of the problems and logjams in your communication process is the rest of the puzzle. Here are some of the most common problems inside companies’ communication systems

1. Synchronous communication in larger companies

Changing “how things have always been done” at a large organization can be daunting. Still, sometimes the cost to revamp a system is far less than the cost of maintaining an inefficient old one. Such is the case with large companies still holding on to firm meetings, guidelines and procedures for communication. This hampers both creativity and autonomy, often making for a disengaged or disgruntled workforce along the way.

2. Communication silos 

Communication silos are typical in large organizations when departments don’t coordinate with each other laterally. This becomes most problematic when dealing with big-picture goals or objectives that require interdepartmental cooperation. One team being on a totally different stage or approach than another is a common sign that you have a silo issue.

3. Communication amongst varied teams and time zones

Remote work can solve some of a business’s most serious problems with staffing and talent acquisition. When casting a wide net to secure the best people, your organization will likely wind up in multiple time zones and perhaps even separate continents. Making sure your expectations for response times and coordination are set and understood becomes essential in this type of structure.

4. High employee turnover

High turnover impacts every aspect of a business, and communication is no different. Gaps in sharing information or coordinating long-term projects can often crop up when key employees are rotating in and out of the company. Ensuring you’re closing those gaps with your information sharing and communication is vital.

5. Low employee engagement

Disengaged employees will likely resist any changes to how business is done. They’re also less likely to voluntarily share information and ideas with management and peers, creating the equivalent of a short circuit in your communication process. 

6. Bottom-up communication challenges

As mentioned, bottom-up communication can be difficult to manage in larger organizations. The lines between who reports what items to which person can become blurry, and with thousands of employees kicking items up the chain, it can be difficult for supervisors and managers to keep up. Look at the size of your organization and determine whether this system would be too much to handle.

7. Resistance to change

As with any significant change, not everyone will be immediately on board. As a matter of fact, the first communication challenge a business may face is properly selling management and staff on the value of revitalizing their communication itself. Many change-resistant employees may also fall into the “low engagement” category, so focusing on improving that figure may also have positive results.

5 tips for better business communication

Making sure your business’s communication system is at its most efficient is important for any business. These tips are an excellent place to start. 

1. Be honest about your current successes and challenges

You cannot accurately determine what steps to take to improve your communications if you’re not honest about where it’s falling short. Recognize what you do well, but pay particular attention to areas that appear to be consistently causing problems. 

Are department heads complaining that their peers aren’t on the same page? You could have communication silos. Trouble implementing new policies? There may be a gap somewhere in your top-down process. By finding the flaws, you’ll know what areas you need to prioritize.

2. Invest in your business communication

It’s one thing to talk about improvements. It’s another to commit to them. If you need new software to facilitate better communication, buy it. Employees are more likely to buy in when they feel the company is genuinely committed to what they’re saying.

3. Let everyone have a voice

While a bottom-up communication style might not work for your organization, that doesn’t mean that workers need to feel ignored. Instead, ensure your leadership team and managers regularly ask for employee input, particularly as you redesign your communication process. Employees who feel valued are significantly more likely to be engaged and are typically more productive, too. 

4. Clearly define your plan

A lot goes into improving business communication. It’s easy to get lost in all the to-dos. Save yourself the trouble and define how your organization can get from where it is to where it needs to be. Plot it out in attainable, smaller steps. Before you know it, your gaps in communication and employee concerns will start to ebb away.

5. Be adaptable

No matter how well-intentioned something may be, there are bound to be hiccups in a new process. Listen to the feedback of your employees and those implementing your changes. If something isn’t being adopted or picked up as quickly as you thought, ask why. There may be modifications you can make to your plan that make things smoother. 

Improve your business communications and get access to global talent

Taking the limitless talent pool that remote work provides and combining it with a revitalized system for communication can turn a stagnant company into a leader in the new business landscape. As the labor market continues to change, employers who adapt, modernize and tailor themselves to this new environment will thrive. 

At Outstaffer.com, we can help you do just that. As a global Employer of Record, we help companies hire, pay and equip employees from around the world. With our #WorkFromAnywhere technology, like Managed Devices, Workforce Monitoring and VR Workplaces, we empower your global talent to work. 

In short, getting world-class talent has never been simpler. Ready to reach for that next level? Get started today.

Dec 14, 2022
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