I work at a software company. I have a coworker who props up his phone most of the day, watching stuff while he works such as video game streamers, or cooking shows, or whatever. He's trying to give the appearance that he's working while having the content on in the background, but a lot of times, its hard to tell if he's working or just watching stuff. He would be a great employee otherwise, and he works a lot of hours (unpaid overtime), though my impression is that the total hours he "effectively" works is probably close to regular hours (or less).
I am occasionally (recently) responsible for assigning tasks to this employee. My impression is that the task(s) would have been completed sooner had he not been working (what I believe to be) more slowly by being distracted by his phone. For example, I go over to check on his progress and he is very obviously looking at his phone, and then makes a comment about the show and jumps back to his work.
Should I approach him about this behavior? I'm one of the leads on the team, though not his direct boss, but I am one of the ones who is asked to give feedback on his performance occasionally. I'm concerned he isn't operating as efficiently as he could be, so when I'm asked to give feedback on him, it puts me in a tough spot.
Why do I care? I care about him as a person. I've known him for a few years now and I like him, but since he is the only one in the office that does this, I think it negatively affects his image and opportunities for advancement. He's complained in the past about being stuck at a lower level than he'd like, but I can't help but feeling like his "professionalism" at work contributes to it.
My goal is not to get him in trouble or scold him, but just to suggest that perhaps this behavior creates a bad impression of him. At the same time, I'm really worried about demotivating him or it backfiring, since I do value him as an employee.
Update: So I ended up going to talk with the coworker. I had previously made a snarky comment related to him watching his phone at work. After reading these responses here, I felt pretty bad, and felt pretty bad about my tone in general. I pulled him aside to apologize. He ended up sharing with me some pretty rough things that were going on outside of work these past few weeks, and that he himself was concerned that his lower performance recently was noticed by everyone on the team. Long story short, I felt it was a good conversation, and I was reminded that you never know whats going on with someone and to never judge the situation just by the appearance of it.