Information Services

Breakout Rooms

Breakout Rooms have now been implemented in Microsoft Teams. These allow meeting organisers to create and name separate rooms during a meeting, and assign attendees to these rooms.

Updates to Breakout Rooms

Recently added updates

Microsoft have added some new updates to breakout rooms in Teams. These features are available to meeting organisers setting up breakout rooms on the Teams desktop app.

The features that have been added are:

Breakout room assignment retention 

Participants remain assigned to their breakout rooms unless the meeting organiser chooses to change them. The assignment persists across subsequent sessions or recurring meetings.

Reassign participants when the breakout rooms are open

Organisers can now reassign the meeting participants when. breakout rooms are already open, instead of just when they are closed.

Set timers for breakout sessions 

Organisers can set a timer for all breakout rooms created in a meeting session via the Breakout rooms settings panel. When the organiser has set a timer, the clock will show participants the time left in the room (countdown) rather than time elapsed. The timer alerts participants that the breakout room session will close in 60 seconds.

The organiser can choose to automatically redirect participants to the main meeting room (auto-move On) or to provide participants with the option to return to the main meeting room or disconnect.

Should the timer expire before participants take action, they will see an alert informing them that the session has ended which contains a button to return to the main meeting.


  • Once the organizer opens a timed breakout room, participants are invited to join; the timer starts when the first participant joins.
  • If no participants join, the breakout room will not open.
  • If all participants leave a breakout room before the timer expires, the room will close automatically.

Updated user experience for manual participant assignment

Microsoft have released an updated user experience for manual participant assignment in breakout rooms. 

Participant assignment has been moved from the Breakout Rooms’ right panel to a separate window that pops up when selecting Assign Participants.

  • This updated interface will allow you to sort by participants or rooms.
  • You can also select multiple participants and assign them to rooms by using the check boxes next to the participants' names.
  • You will also have the ability to assign participants when rooms are closed and/or re-assign them while rooms are open via this new modal window.
  • This should be helpful in allowing you to quickly find your participant or room and speed up the assignment process.

Updates coming soon

Pre-create rooms and assign participants ahead of meeting start

Organisers of Channel and Private meetings will be able to perform the following Breakout Rooms configuration tasks before a meeting begins:

  • Bulk creating / deleting rooms
  • Adding / deleting / renaming individual rooms
  • Configuring meeting options for each room
  • Adjusting settings for breakout rooms session (timer, selecting breakout rooms managers and more)
  • Pre-assigning participants via both manual and automatic assignment options

Before a meeting starts, meeting organizers will be able to access a new tab in scheduling form called Breakout rooms that will enable them to pre-create breakout rooms and pre-assign participants.

Please note, this feature will only be available on the teams desktop app. 

This feature is expected in late September 2021.

The roadmap ID for this feature is 81389. 

Breakout room presenter support

Meeting organisers will soon be able to extend the management of Breakout Rooms to specific presenters. This feature will allow meeting organizers to add and remove presenters as Breakout Room managers, giving presenters permission to perform breakout room operations.

Presenters given these permissions will be able to:

  • assign users to rooms
  • add/delete rooms
  • open/close rooms
  • re-assign users to rooms
  • send announcements
  • recreate rooms
  • set timer
  • adjust other Breakout rooms settings

This much awaiting update will mean that meeting organisers do not always have to be present in a meeting for breakout room operations to be used. 

This feature is expected in late September 2021.

The roadmap ID for this feature is 81118.

What are Breakout Rooms?

  • Breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams allow meeting organisers to create and name up to 50 separate rooms within scheduled and meet now meetings.
  • Breakout rooms are separate, virtual rooms within a meeting that groups can move to during the meeting.
Image of what breakout rooms looks like in meetings

What can I use breakout rooms for?

You can decide how you want to make use of the breakout rooms feature, but it may be particularly useful for people running workshops or other sessions that require separate group discussion. 

Using Breakout Rooms with students

If you intend to use Teams breakout rooms with your students, please read "Keeping students safe while using Teams" for some guidelines and recommendations on ensuring your student's safety with Teams.

How do I get the breakout rooms feature?

To organise breakout rooms, you must be using the latest Teams Desktop client, as the feature is not available in the Teams web browser version.

If you are a participant in a meeting using breakout rooms, you can join on the desktop, web or mobile app versions of Teams.

However, please make sure you are using the latest version of Teams. 

  • If joining via the Teams mobile app, make sure you have gone to the App Store and downloaded the latest update
  • If joining via the Teams desktop client, make sure you have checked if you have the latest update. To do this, click "Settings and more" to the left of your profile picture, then "check for updates", then select "Refresh Teams" if this shows as a banner. 

What types of meeting are Breakout Rooms available for?

The Breakout Rooms feature is available for:

  • Scheduled meetings
  • Both non-Channel and non-private Channel meetings
  • Ad-hoc meetings set up via the "Meet now" button
  • Teams Webinars

The Breakout Rooms feature is not available for:

  • Private Channel Meetings - Microsoft have removed the ability to use breakout rooms in private channel meetings. This is because they were seeing issues and errors with this feature. There is no timeline for when or if the feature will be reintroduced.
  • Calls in Teams
  • Teams Live Events

What can meeting organisers do with breakout rooms?

Meeting organisers can:

  • Create up to 50 breakout rooms within scheduled or meet now meetings
  • Move between breakout rooms freely
  • Add, move and delete breakout rooms
  • Give breakout rooms titles
  • Decide if participants are automatically added to breakout rooms or if the participant needs to confirm
  • Reassign participants to different rooms
  • Have access to all breakout room artifacts (chat, files, recordings) 
  • Set a timer for the breakout session, to automatically close the breakout rooms when this timer ends. For more information on this and how to use it see Microsoft's guidance on setting a timer for breakout rooms.
  • The same rooms and assignments remain available for recurring meetings
  • Allow participants to return to the main meeting - further guidance on this from Microsoft

What can meeting participants do with breakout rooms?

Note - Breakout rooms are not private chat spaces, while only the participants that are assigned to a breakout room can see the conversations and presentations in that breakout room, the meeting organiser can join any breakout room at any time. 

Participants can:

  • Join breakout rooms from Teams for browser, desktop and mobile 
  • Share content (PowerPoint presentations, Whiteboards) in the breakout room 
  • Chat in the breakout room (this will only be visible to those in the room and the meeting organiser)

Participants cannot:

  • Move freely between breakout rooms and the main meeting.
  • Participants must wait until the organiser brings them back to the main meeting or reassigns them to another breakout room. However, they can request that the meeting organiser call them back. 

How do I create breakout rooms in my meeting?

You can only create breakout rooms if you are the meeting organiser

  • You can create breakout rooms at any point by clicking the "Breakout rooms" icon
  • You can choose to create all your rooms at the start of the meeting or create only one at the start and add more later
  • You can then name, join and delete your breakout rooms by clicking the elipsis (3 dots) beside the room and selecting the appropriate option

How do I assign participants to breakout rooms?

  • When you first set up your breakout rooms you can choose to automatically assign participants (this will evenly assign the participants across the rooms) or you can manually add participants
  • To manually assign participants click the breakout rooms icon and click assign participants
  • Assign participants will now open in a new separate window

Further help

Guidance from Microsoft

Microsoft provide in depth and up to date guidance on breakout rooms via the following link:

Microsoft Guidance on Breakout rooms in Teams

Mastering Breakout rooms video

The following video from Microsoft gives an indepth look at Breakout Rooms, if you only want to see how to create rooms in your Teams meetings, skip the video to 6:07.