Informal communication is open and unofficial communication in which information is voluntarily shared amongst coworkers within a company. Informal communication is frequently unrestricted within an organization.
The features of informal communication are
It ensures an environment where communication between a CEO and a freelancer/ remote/ hourly paid worker can occur.
Examples of Informal Communication in the Workplace?
Employees engaging in casual discussions in the office serve as an excellent example of informal communication. For instance,
1. Water Cooler Chat
The term "water cooler" has become synonymous with informal communication within a workplace! Of course, it does not necessarily have to be around the corner. Any common area in the office, where people gather around and chat, can be a place of informal communication. You can name the space as a water cooler chat corner!
2. Office Messaging Channel
Whether the employees are working in-house or remotely, messaging apps have proven to be a game changer in the case of informal communication at the workplace! The use of messaging apps has grown in popularity in recent years.
Many well-known programs like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Trello work as virtual water cooler tools, thus enabling natural communication between your staff members.
3. Dinar Table
Even while this informal communication style is frequently mentioned in families, it can also be observed in workplaces.
A parent (the boss) is always available for informal questions from a child (the employee) at home. It also occurs during lunch breaks in offices. When the official communication hierarchy is absent, employees can raise questions, and others may give them answers informally.
Types of Informal Communication in the Workplace
Informal communication in the workplace is hard to categorize into specific types. However, four types of informal communication are usually seen. These are:
1. Single Strand Chain
It is a single-sequence kind of communication. Here, the first employee will speak with the second employee, then speak with the next person, and so on. It is also known as "Grapevine Communication."
2. Gossip Chain
Most common informal communication type. It is usually a group of employees where everyone takes part in a discussion informally.
3. Probability Chain
A message can be passed among different people in the workplace. In this style of communication, the Law of Probability is crucial since some people may learn about the material while others may not be interested in it.
4. Cluster Chain
Here, one employee may share the news with a particular set of people, who either keep it to themselves or share it with the chosen group of employees.
Difference Between Informal and Formal Business Communication
A business organization cannot function effectively without both informal and formal communication. There are some key areas where informal and formal business communication differs. They are:
1. Organizational Consequences
The authorities cannot take action against any information received through informal communication.
Wrongful information passed during formal communication faces consequences.
No accountability for information is taken during the flow of informal communication.
In formal communication, each individual is responsible for the information they provide.
Informal communication involves unofficial discussions, ideas, one-on-one interactions, gossip, and rumors.
The main channels of formal communication are formal discussion, facts, and professional discussion.
4. Flow of Information
Information tends to flow faster in the case of informal communication compared to formal communication.
5. Structure Nature
Informal communication is mostly dynamic and inflexible
Formal communication is rigid and inflexible in nature
Informal Communication Advantages and Disadvantages
There are both perks and disadvantages to informal communication in the workplace. Let’s check them one by one.
Informal communication has the benefit of promoting a stress-free workplace and encouraging increased efficiency and energy.
Informal communication promotes a sense of community and builds stronger interpersonal interactions.
The grapevine channels are most active when there are informal connections. In the office, the management or leaders may easily spread rumors or information.
Every employee is free to approach any organization member, regardless of their position or level, which is an advantage of informal communication.
Because of the relaxed environment, employees are more likely to speak honestly about grievances with supervisors and other team members.
Where communication is informal, the fear factor is minimal! It could generate insightful suggestions and opinions that are advantageous to a company.
Informal communication frequently leads to information distortion and false alarms.
The information flow may occasionally be imperfect and open to everyone's interpretation.
If wrong information is spread, it will be impossible to track down the source and punish the offender.
It is problematic because feelings and sentiments sometimes trump facts. It gives a misleading and vague idea of what happened.
Informal communication is not regarded as trustworthy and inappropriate in situations when prior fact-checking is required.