As of December 2020, Microsoft Teams has introduced breakout room facilities, allowing organisers to divide meetings into sub-groups of up to 50, and to facilitate discussions and brainstorming sessions.
Much like the functionality on Zoom, once the organiser creates breakout rooms within a meeting, participants will be relocated from the main video meeting to a separate space with fewer participants. The organiser can allow participants to return to the main meeting at any time if they have a clarifying question and then return to the assigned breakout room. Additionally, the organiser can also join any of the breakout sessions and switch attendees in between breakout rooms. At the conclusion of a breakout session organisers can send out an announcement to all rooms and recall all participants back to the main meeting at any time.
Why use breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams (as opposed to Zoom)?
The two biggest benefits of breakout rooms in Teams are Microsoft’s ‘Together Mode’ facility and its integration with Office 365.
Together Mode creates an avatar of the participant from their shoulders up and projects this into a virtual lecture room, coffee shop or another themed backdrop. This encourages users to participate more in conversation and supports presenters in ‘reading the room’.
As Teams is already integrated with Office 365 this allows users to seamlessly share files, search for files, collaborate and back-up produced work across all Office 365 applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Sharepoint, etc.
In conclusion, breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams is best used if all participants have Office 365 to benefit from seamlessintegration. Breakout zooms in Zoom is a safer option across a range of organisations that may not all use Office 365.
If you have not yet used breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams, you will need to change your settings and restart Teams.
Here’s how to set up a breakout room on Microsoft Teams:
Turning on the feature
Turn on the breakout rooms feature.
- Click on your profile image on Teams
- Select ‘Settings’
- Select ‘General’, check ‘Turn on new meeting experience’ option under the ‘Application’ setting
- Restart Teams (you may need to restart your computer)
- Double-check the setting is working by starting a meeting and verifying that the meeting opens in its own window
*As breakout rooms are constantly being upgraded, it is important to note this information was gathered in January 2021.