KPMG in Canada is allowing employees to work remotely from another province or country in a bid to attract and retain talent amid a crowded labour market.

The company’s Roam program allows eligible employees to work in any Canadian province for up to eight weeks per year or four weeks abroad in designated countries that offer nomad visas or citizenship allowances, including Bahamas, Bermuda, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Croatia and Mexico. Employees who are European Union or French citizens can also work in France, while U.S. citizens are eligible to work in Florida.

After more than two years of working from home and balancing home and work responsibilities, employees have shown they can do great things, even when they’re not together, says Louise Lutgens, KPMG’s managing director of talent innovation and strategic investments.

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“We need some of the best and brightest right here in Canada and to give them the opportunity to join and have the chance to work in a different location while expanding their experience and perspectives brings greater value to us and our clients. It’s definitely one of the attraction plays that we’re selling and pitching to candidates right now.”

KPMG undertook an extensive review of the immigration policies offered by eligible countries, including temporary work visas and tax and employment law implications, as well as information technology security concerns, she says. Employees working outside of North America will require a separate, higher-security laptop in which no data or information related to clients will exist and all work will be done through a secure, virtual private network.

The organization has already approved an Alberta-based employee’s request to spend four weeks working in British Columbia. Lutgens says the company has also fielded requests from employees to work in France, Mexico and some Caribbean countries.

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“We do get a lot of citizens of France who work in our Quebec offices [and] many times they want to go back and spend time with family,” she adds, noting the program allows them to take two to three weeks’ vacation and then work for another four weeks in the country.

Once KPMG expands the program’s list of approved countries, Lutgens expects to see even more interest among employees. “We want people to be and do their best wherever they’re most productive. There are reasons . . . [employees] have to be [working] in-person and reasons for when [they] can work remotely, but if it’s possible for [them] to work remotely, I think it’s incumbent on employers to consider [it].”

And while she says this is the type of diverse, flexible perk that potential candidates are seeking, the program is anchored in trust. “We’ve trusted our people for over two years. They’ve done amazing things for our clients across Canada, despite the conditions, so we’re going to continue to trust them to work effectively, whether they’re at home or in Croatia. That’s fundamental to who we are as a firm.”

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