I'm actually needing this now, but I'm looking also for a phrase that I can reuse as a Outlook "quick part" in emails.

  • Does your work have a dependency on you co-worker completing their work?
    – Neo
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 19:50
  • 3
    A canned outlook "quick part" to communicate "urgency" reminds me of a famous fable by Aesop, "The Project Manager Who Cried Wolf". Don't be that guy.
    – teego1967
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 13:44
  • 3
    Its highly likely that this person hears "its urgent its your #1 priority" about a lot of tasks, and that it is not always true. Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 22:35

7 Answers 7


Frankly, you don't tell people to "hurry up", and certainly not as a canned email. There are two possibilities here:

  1. Your coworker is working on this task as far as they can. In this case, you can ask for an estimate of when the work will be completed, but saying "hurry up" isn't going to help.
  2. Your coworker is working on another task, because they've been told by their management that's what they should be doing. In this case, you need to be talking to your manager to get your task prioritised.

Realistically, if this is a critical issue, you should have raised it with your management as soon as it became obvious that there was a issue; getting to "I need this now" means you haven't managed the issue properly - except in cases of force majeure, issues should never go from "it's all fine" to "it's on fire" without your manager being aware there was a potential problem.

  • Would be wise to ask the colleague first about his progress, and only if it's not satisfactory you can go to management. If I'm remotely working and 90% done with my task, but then get a manager to bother me I will not be very happy. Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 1:15

Unless you're their boss, you don't "tell" people to do anything, you ask. Even if you're their boss, it's better to ask first. Instead of:

This task must be done by XYZ date, You need to make it your #1 priority and hurry up about it.

Try something like this:

The customer's deadline for this task is XYZ date, can you help make that happen?

In general, people want to help and tend to go out of their way for people who ask. Of course they may be overloaded or otherwise unable to get everything tha=ey have to do completed on time. If they reply to your request for help that they're too busy or whatever, then you let your management know that this task is at risk of being late let them communicate with the other person's management.


I think you need to convey to people when something is due and why. Some things are simple, we need the amount by 4:00 PM because the bank is closing. If there is something more complex or time is required by others, there should have been more formal processes in place, so everything can be addressed.

For things without objective due dates/times, try to come to some agreement on when to expect it. Maybe even consider suggesting, if I don't hear from you on the day before, is it all right to send you a reminder. Many people will appreciate it and others will use it as a crutch. So what if it means getting things done on time.

Please and thank you go a long way. At some point there should be consequences for not getting things done on time, but you're probably not in a position to administer any of those except when it's time for them to ask you to get something done...


The question made me think of the difference between importance and urgency, and that I think these situations require clearly communicating both.

For example (with regard to web development):

  • High importance, high urgency: Production server is down — needs to be fixed ASAP
  • High importance, low urgency: Refactoring legacy code to use the new pattern we've agreed. Important to do, but could potentially be put on hold
  • Low importance, high urgency: Need to get a story completed: in the grand scheme of things (e.g. vs production incident), it's lower importance, but it has a hard deadline — a Scrum sprint is time-boxed, so you can't do this 'whenever'
  • Low importance, low urgency: Fix typos in the documentation to make it easier to read.

I think other answers focus more on "high importance, high urgency", but the question is also valid for "low importance, high urgency" — how do you effectively ask someone for help when they are blocking you from getting your work done? You may have a case where something isn't critical, but someone else giving you their help quickly will mean that the whole team delivers more efficiently — e.g.

  • can you remind me where in the codebase that example of X is that you were talking about?
  • can you approve my pull request?
  • can you make that config change on the dev server that I need?

I think it's definitely appropriate to do that, especially with remote workers if you can't tell if they're in the middle of something else, but it's really important to pitch your style of communication at the right level. & as a senior dev, I appreciate getting a polite prod if I've forgotten to do a code review & it's blocking you :)

I think a good level of communication highlights both the urgency and importance of the task in hand, provides options for the person you're talking to, and the potential impact —— not in a way to put pressure on them, but so that they're making an informed decision, especially if they are more senior to you, and may need to make the call on reprioritising the work as a whole.

E.g. if you have a policy that a senior developer needs to sign off on all code reviews before they get merged, it's fine to say something like:

Hi John,

I know you have a lot on, but just wanted to check if you had time to look at my pull request this morning? If not, just let me know & I can see if Sarah could do it instead.

Sorry to chase, just trying to get this story into testing if possible today, as our QA team are all in training tomorrow, so this would only get picked up on Friday otherwise.

From my point of view, a message like the above:

  1. Is a polite reminder — maybe you assigned the pull request to me yesterday & I forgot to review it
  2. Gives an alternative — rather than just saying "I'm stuck" or "I'm blocked by you", offering to take to another senior dev on the team gives me an option if I'm snowed under
  3. Informs me of the urgency and potential impact, so I can reprioritise my work accordingly — if I didn't know that the QA team were out of office tomorrow, I might have thought your work was less urgent that mine, this allows me to reassess.

You may need to go to management, especially if it's to make a decision on which equally important piece of work should get prioritised or if the person doesn't write back. It's also tricky if the person is in another team or another department, with completely different goals.

Often though, within an autonomous team , I think this can be sorted out without needing to escalate things if everyone is in the habit of communicating both urgency and importance.


How I tell a remote work colleague to hurry up it's urgent but in a polite way?

You don't. You outline your needs professionally in terms of timeframes that affect the both of you. And if the colleague isn't doing their bit, you hand the problem to your manager. It's the managers role to ensure you can work efficiently.

You have neither the authority to force the colleague, nor the reason to get into any sort of dispute or recriminations.


If you tell them to hurry up they can do a job that is not complete, full of errors, not correct etc.

Then you have to apologizes to the customer. That is bad.

Then you have to fix it. i.e. rework it.

Why not just accept the situation as it is and start getting some small chucks defined with a deadline. Something your company should have done at the start.

Perhaps Agile/Scrum?


This would depend on if the person knows it is urgent

If they know it is urgent then just ask for a status

Sorry to bother you but do you have an estimate of when this will be complete? Do you need any additional information from me?

If they don't know it is urgent

This task is now on critical path for XYZ. I know you have other tasks competing for your time. But do you have an estimate of when this will be complete? Do you need any additional information from me?

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