Physical Barrier to Communication

What is Physical Barrier of Communication? Definition and Causes

What is Physical Barrier in Communication?

Communication may also be disturbed by the physical layout of the organization, distance, structure, etc. if such a barrier hinders the flow of information in the organization, it is called a physical barrier to communication.

Effective flow of information within the organization is essential but its different elements or physical factors disturb the information flow.

Such physical factors prevent the sender to send the message to the receiver as well as the receiver to get the message or give feedback creating a problem of transmission of information. As such physical barriers decrease the efficiency of communication in the workplace.

In addition, physical barriers to communication are easy to spot that can be natural or human-made. However, the manager should be able to spot such barriers and develop strategies to overcome them.

Causes of Physical Barrier to Communication

The following are the main reasons for physical barriers to communication in the workplace.


Distance is the main cause of physical barriers. If the locations of the sender and receiver as well as branches and departments are located in different geographical locations this may break down the communication flow of an organization.

Employees may communicate with each other via telephone but there may also be a problem with the network. As such appropriate communication network should be developed in the organization to communicate information in different locations.

Office Design

If the organizational design is too poor where the manager is fenced and closed in a room, it also creates poor communication with the subordinates. Subordinates usually hesitate to frequently enter the manager’s cabin.

In addition, if coworkers also sit in different cabins with a closed wall, it also becomes a barrier to the free and prompt flow of information. As such the office design should be communication-friendly.


Noise also is a barrier to effective communication. The noise may be from the natural environment as well as from human-made machines.

For example, when a manager is trying to interact with an employee, a noisy machine can become a distracting environment factor. In this instance, the employee would be unable to hear the supervisor because of the noisy equipment. As such the employee may not be able to give proper feedback.


Time also can be a physical barrier to communication. Since an organization’s employees i.e. branches are located in different geographical locations the time zone of such locations also differs. Different time zone creates a problem when employees are not able to interpret and translate the time of different locations.

Hierarchal Structure

Organizational structures with complex layers of supervision, long communication channels, and organizational distance to workers, etc. are generally against effective communication. In large organizations, information is passed through many levels, and people which may decrease the efficiency of the message.

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