Today, meeting organizers can create and manage breakout rooms from the desktop client. Recently, a timer feature was added for breakout rooms together with some other improvements and an updated experience for managing breakout rooms is now rolling out. This post won’t cover the how to utilize the feature but rather cover the recently added updates to breakout rooms, as well as some updates to it coming soon. For a full breakout rooms guide, I suggest reading Vesku Nopanens blog post found here:
How to use “Definite Guide” for the new Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms – Vesa Nopanen – My Teams & Microsoft 365 Day (myteamsday.com)
Let’s have a look what’s changed!
As before, the meeting organizer clicks the breakout rooms icon shown below:
The usual promt shows, where you can the choose number of rooms and the type of assignment you want:
Let’s create one room and have manual assignment!
NEW – Right after that we will now get a new assignment prompt:
You can here select attendees (or select all at the top) -> click assign on the top right -> select the room which to assign the attendee(s) to:
Still, only already joined attendees show up here. Soon I expect all invited users should be visible here for assignment as well. More on that later. I assign Emma to “Room 1” and click “Assign”
NEW – You’ll now be taken to the updated breakout room tab:
At the top we can now see the number of joined attendees available for assignment of a room. Clicking “Assign participants” will open up the same prompt as earlier for assignment.
- The “Open” button opens all rooms simultaneously
- The “+” icon just adds another room. Clicking it it will create “Room 2” and so forth:
- The announcement button is now clearly visible and was easily missed before when it was hidden behind an elipsis menu. Use this to send a chat message to all open rooms. (Only available with at least one room open)
- The two circled arrows icon will recreate rooms, taking you back to the first prompt to create rooms. Use this if you started of with the wrong assignment type or need to create more than a few additional rooms:
The trash bin icon will delete all rooms and will be used if you change your mind about using breakout rooms at all inside the meeting:
Clicking the cogwheel icon will show you the breakout room settings:
The two first options are not new:
- Automatically move participants to rooms – When this is enabled (default) assigned attendees will be transfered without consent when organizer opens a room. If disabled, assigned attendees will be shown this prompt:
- Participants can return to the main meeting – Once in the breakout room, attendees can’t exit the room until the organizer close the room or the timer runs out!
NEW – The Timer!
Fairly new is the timer setting which can be reached from the settings menu. Click the switch button next to “Set a time limit” to enable the timer. Next, set a time for when the rooms automatically closes and attendees will be sent back to the main meeting:
When attendees enter breakout rooms, the timer will display the remaining time of the session. In a desktop client, it will be shown in the top left of the meeting window:
In a browser, the timer will be displayed at the most left of the floating meeting options bar:
The timer is great to keep track of time and relieve the organizer from keeping track of time and manually close the rooms. Attendees will also know how much time is left and act accordingly to that.
NEW – Re-assign attendees on the fly!
Now, by clicking on the “Assign participants” at the top in the breakout rooms tab, you can change room assignments of attendees on the fly, even when rooms are opened. Attendees in a breakout room, being moved to another room will see this promt:
NEW – Breakout room retention
If everyone leaves the meeting or the organizer choose to end the meeting with the “End meeting” option, previously configured rooms and assignments are kept if the meeting is started again. Also, I discovered that former joined attendees will be shown in the assignment prompt and can be managed even though they not yet re-joined the meeting.
So, whats coming up next?
There are a few new features coming up that are on the roadmap. I hinted earlier about the ability to assign attendees before joining the meeting first. Creating rooms and assign attendees to these – pre-meeting, are coming soon:
The new UI which I’ve shown in this blog post is also rolling out:
It’s nice to see that the breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams keeps getting better with new updates and even more to come. When first released, there was quite much left to wish for. Today it’s more stable and easier to manage.
There’s still some improvements to be made in terms of stability and speed, but Microsoft is getting there!