7 Essential Channels of Communication in the Workplace

Updated June 29, 2023

Illustrations of various channels of communication float next to each other, including text bubbles, an email window on a laptop, a hand holding a cellphone showing a video chat, and a stack of letters.

Communication is an important skill in the workplace. To effectively communicate with others, it's important to understand how communication works. One process involves channels of communication, which are methods employees use in the workplace to convey information to one another.

In this article, we explain the seven main channels of communication in the workplace and how these channels play a role in effective communication.

Related: Steps and Components of the Communication Process

What are channels of communication?

Communication channels include both verbal and nonverbal cues as well as written documents. A large portion of communication is nonverbal, which can make certain channels more effective than others. In today’s workplace, digital technology also provides many online channels of communication that can connect employees from all over the world.

Related: Your Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Communication Channels

What are communication channels used for?

Channels of communication help facilitate the flow of information throughout a company. Information that’s regularly shared within a company may include:

  • Company-wide policies and events

  • Employee benefits information

  • Managerial communications

  • Customer orders and requests

  • Team brainstorming

  • Status reports

Related: How To Become a Communication Manager

7 primary channels of communication in the workplace

Here are the seven main channels of communication to use in the workplace:

1. In person

In-person conversations are one of the most effective channels of communication in the workplace. Talking to someone in person allows you to use both verbal and nonverbal communication cues, which can help improve the quality and efficacy of your conversations. 

It's also easier to convey the tone of the conversation when you speak to someone in person. Sometimes, written or digital communication can lack tone and intent, leading to miscommunication and potential confusion. By speaking in person, the tone of your voice and your body language can bring clarity to your words.

In-person is a valuable form of communication for sharing sensitive information or information that could be confusing with the ability for a back-and-forth narrative.

2. Documents

Formal business documents are another common communication channel for employees, managers and executives. These can include:

  • Company and human resources policy documents

  • Benefits forms

  • Legal guidelines

This channel of communication is often used to send benefits information and employee handbooks to new hires.

3. Emails

Emails are important channels of communication for quick conversations, sending or receiving attachments and contacting larger groups of people. A short email can convey information quickly and easily, and a longer email can cover a more complicated subject enhanced by attachments. Emails allow for multiple recipients, so employees can share documents with an entire team or department.

Emails are a great way to send formal documents to employees at the start of a new project.

Related: 12 Careers in Strategic Communications To Consider

4. Instant messaging platforms

Instant messaging platforms and boards allow teams to communicate instantly and directly with one another. This type of platform can help increase overall communication between team members and ensure everyone in the project is kept up to date.

Instant messaging platforms are great for distributing timely information quickly and to a large group of people at the same time.

5. Videoconference

Videoconferencing platforms allow for communication that includes both verbal and nonverbal cues, much like an in-person conversation does which allows for a more personal interaction than an email or phone call. Videoconferencing platforms also often include other tools like cloud storage, file sharing and call recording so you can review calls for quality and training.

Videoconferencing is a great way to stay in touch with team members who might live in different parts of the country or world and/or team members that work from home.

6. Phone calls

Phone calls can clear up confusion or convey new information across long distances and conference calls can allow multiple people to take part in a conversation. Phone calls lack the nonverbal cues of in-person conversations or videoconferencing but may provide a simple communication channel for customers and employees.

Phone calls are great for impromptu one-on-one conversations or time-sensitive communication, such as following up on a missed deadline.

7. Social media

Social media platforms are a popular way to communicate and businesses use them to stay in contact with customers, communicate about new products and promotions and increase their overall brand awareness. Social media allows companies to create their own pages, attract followers and reach more people at one time than a phone call, video conference or email chain.

Social media platforms can be a great place to attract new customers and also to share employee photos and post company anniversary milestones.

Why are channels of communication important in the workplace?

Clear channels of communication can add value to the workplace in the following ways. They can:

  • Deliver communication in an instant or timely manner

  • Ensure each member of the team receives the same information

  • Increase productivity because employees know what is expected of them

  • Encourage group discussion and feedback

  • Provide employees with a way to voice concerns or questions

  • Encourage greater team interaction

  • Build stronger relationships between employees


Explore more articles

  • How To Write a Letter Asking for Donations or Sponsorship in 6 Steps
  • Frequency: What It Is and How To Calculate It
  • Business Development Skills (With Definition and Examples)
  • 31 Paid Studies (And How You Can Make Money Participating)
  • 45 Time Management Performance Review Phrases To Use
  • How To Write a Thank-You Note To a Coworker (With Examples)
  • The Importance of a Business Plan for Entrepreneurs: 18 Reasons You Need One
  • 50 Quotes To Inspire Business Partnerships and Collaboration
  • 16 Facilitation Techniques and Their Benefits
  • 10 Workplace Personalities (And How To Work With Each)
  • What Is Conflict Theory? Definition and Examples
  • Company Presentation: How To Write One (With Tips)