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7.6 min to readDigital Workplace

Teams Breakout Rooms as game changer for collaboration

Erik Moll, SoftwareOne blog author
Erik MollGo-to-Market Manager - Americas
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Just one year ago, the world learned of COVID-19 and organizations around the world were forced to find the best way to collaborate remotely. Now, as restrictions begin to ease up and the pandemic outlook appears to brighten, businesses are left to decide whether they stay remote or head back to the office.

The truth, however, is likely to lie somewhere in the middle. Hybrid work models are projected to rise in popularity. According to the PwC’s Global Remote Work Survey, 45 percent of companies will not require employees to go into the office, and 21 percent are expecting a hybrid approach between remote work and in-office workdays. This means that organizations will need to figure out how to adjust their remote strategies to accommodate this new hybrid approach.

Rest assured, technology is evolving along with your business needs too. In fact, several new updates to Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms have been rolled out in an effort to make the workplace more productive than ever. Let’s dive into why Breakout Rooms are key to collaboration and how your organization can leverage them.

Why Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms are a game changer

Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms provide users with the ability to break larger meetings down by placing attendees in smaller breakout groups. These breakout rooms can be used for training, brainstorming, discussions, and more. While traditional online meetings can become unproductive, Microsoft Breakout Rooms transform your meetings into more interactive, engaging, and efficient uses of your time. With smaller group settings, participants will be more likely to engage in group discussions and partake in other virtual activities such as town hall events or professional development classes. Now, users can even use the virtual whiteboard to draw out their ideas during breakout sessions.

Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms also allow you to easily organize up to 50 rooms and manage participants without compromising the meeting experience. You can move participants to other rooms at any time, send messages to individual rooms to encourage participation, close breakout rooms, and bring participants back to the main meeting whenever needed.

Oftentimes, when teams break out into smaller groups, they tend to discuss topics they may have missed in a larger setting. The organizer can even jump in between breakout rooms and ensure that participants adhere to the set agenda. You can also address topics that were missed and allow each participant a chance to contribute to topics in more detail. Overall, Microsoft Breakout Rooms offer a lot of functionalities that will enhance online training and collaboration so you won’t have to worry about the limitations of remote work.

The different applications of Teams Breakout Rooms

It’s no secret that organizations initially found it difficult to adjust to remote work. However, many have hit their groove and found new ways to stay productive and collaborative. Fortunately, Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms can further improve and enrich your meeting and training experience. With these new features, meetings can be more engaging, fun, and educational than ever before. Let’s get into how companies can leverage breakout rooms within their own workplaces:

Educational Workshops and Team Trainings

One option for the use of Teams Breakout Rooms is educational workshops and team trainings, as the breakout rooms can greatly enhance collaboration and productivity through their many capabilities. Each Breakout Room acts as a Teams meeting, complete with recording, content sharing, and chat functions. These features provide a hands-on learning educational experience for employees.

For example, an organizer may give a lecture to team members and then have them split into breakout rooms to work on an assignment together. While participants are working on the assignment, the organizer can make an announcement in each of the breakout rooms to let them know how much time is left. Then, the organizer can close all of the breakout rooms and have everyone move back into the main meeting.


Conferences have gone virtual around the world and organizations may need Teams Breakout Rooms to help create more intimate settings within the larger events. A virtual conference operates very much like an in-person conference. Speakers can present in the main meeting room and organizers can then create breakout rooms for participants to ask follow-up questions and continue the conversation with the presenters. An organizer can also assign a facilitator to keep the conversation on track and make sure the objectives are met. After some time, the organizer can broadcast an announcement across the breakout rooms of the time remaining. In addition, organizers can open all or specific rooms for participants to freely enter and engage with the speakers.

In this setting, Breakout rooms provide an opportunity for participants to effectively engage, collaborate, and network in smaller groups.

Virtual Team-Building Events

Another option for the use of Teams Breakout Rooms is to create virtual team-building events which help to foster strong working relationships between employees. Organizers can create different rooms for team-building activities and manually assign the participants. They can also shuffle participants automatically and add them to the rooms. Once participants complete the activities, they can come back into the main meeting. Participants can then share their whiteboards and files from the breakout rooms and discuss their experiences.

Let’s take a look at one specific example of a fun team-building activity:

Virtual coffee chats are social events intended to build connections between employees. A successful coffee chat will strengthen work relationships because participants get to know each other and build memories together. Organizers can create different rooms based on themes and manually assign 2-3 participants for each room. Here are some themes to incorporate and questions to ask for each theme:

  • Theme: Professional Outlook
    • What is your favorite way to work? Do you prefer complete silence, or does an open concept office help your productivity?
    • What four characteristics must your work environment or culture have to make you feel engaged as an employee?
  • Theme: Past Professional Experiences
    • If you had to live your work life over, at what point would you have chosen a different path that would have led you to more success and happiness?
    • What are three things that you would change about your work environment that would make you a more successful employee?
  • Theme: Personal
    • If you could choose any one person, living or dead, who would you most want to emulate?
    • Looking at your whole life, not just your work life, what are three activities in which you wish you were spending more of your time?

Networking Events

You can use Teams Breakout Rooms to host virtual networking events enabling people to continue building their personal and professional network through live chats. Organizers can create themed breakout rooms based on different parts of the industry and bring in industry figures or thought leaders. Further, they can let the participants know how much time they have left by making announcements to all rooms simultaneously. All participants receive the announcement in their chat boxes. Then, organizers can quickly switch attendees to a new room to network with other industry leaders. With breakout rooms, participants can better connect and increase the likelihood of their conversations continuing after the virtual event is over.

Diversity and Inclusion Events

Organizations everywhere are ramping up their diversity and inclusion training. As such, one option for the use of Teams Breakout Rooms is diversity and inclusion events.

For example, an organizer could split participants into diverse groups of 3-4 people each and instruct them to work together to select an image that represents diversity and inclusion. However, there’s one rule: the image cannot have any people in it, so participants must be creative as possible.

The organizer can broadcast announcements to all chats that they have 8 minutes to work together to find this image. It can be from the internet, in their office, or on their phone. It can even be an image that they can draw together. The organizer can share the instructions to all rooms simultaneously. All participants will receive the instructions in their chat boxes.

Using Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms features, participants can quickly share photos with each other or use the Whiteboard feature to draw an image together. After the 8 minutes are up, the organizer can close all of the breakout rooms and bring participants back to the main room. Since all files are saved from the rooms, a spokesperson from each breakout session can share the image with the full team and everyone can guess why they selected this photo. Then the spokesperson can tell everyone why they chose that image.

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Enhance your online workplace collaboration

SoftwareOne can bring you the latest solutions to improve communication and collaboration across your work environment.

Enhance your online workplace collaboration

SoftwareOne can bring you the latest solutions to improve communication and collaboration across your work environment.


Erik Moll, SoftwareOne blog author

Erik Moll
Go-to-Market Manager - Americas

Digital Workplace