Microsoft announced in July that a new virtual Breakout Rooms feature would come to Microsoft Teams in the final quarter of 2020. It appears that the meeting hosts will soon have an option to create breakout rooms during Teams meetings. Spotted by Tim Evans, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, the feature has begun rolling out for users running Teams' preview releases (note: the tweet has since been deleted).
The Breakout rooms feature is a powerful tool in Microsoft Teams that allows meeting organizers to split a group video or audio call into divergent sessions for smaller group discussions. They can assign users to a room, add/remove/rename the rooms.
Keep in mind that only the organizer of the meeting will see this new Breakout rooms icon, which can be accessed beside the three dots ( . . . ) menu. Clicking on the icon will take users to the Create Breakout Rooms window, which provides different options such as Room settings and Participants.
The meeting organizer will be able to choose the number of rooms (1-50) from the Room settings, and the Participants section will allow them to assign users (Automatically or Manually) to a room. Finally, click Create Rooms, and the Breakout Rooms window will now appear on the screen.
To assign users to a breakout room, click Assign Participants (as shown in the featured image) and then use the checkboxes to select all the users' names. Next, click the Assign button, and select the room to assign it to users manually.
At this point, the breakout rooms will be closed for the meeting participants, and the organizer will have to click the Start rooms button to open them for discussion. Finally, to bring all participants back to the larger group when the breakout is complete, click Close rooms. This will notify all the meeting participants that they are being asked to leave the breakout rooms.
The feature is currently listed as under development in the Microsoft 365 roadmap, which indicates that it will be released in October 2020. Considering that the breakout room functionality is now being rolled out to preview users, it shouldn’t be long before it makes its way to the public in the coming weeks.